The conception of Life in Islam

The conception of Life in Islam

Al-Azhar Magazine – March 1973

The basic principles of Islam are formed on the fact that this life is not a mere shade of the Hereafter or meaningless one. But Islam teaches man not only that all life is essentially a unity, it also shows the practical way how a man can reach within the limits of his individual earthly life, the supreme goal of his life. To attain this goal, he is neither compelled renounce the worldly life, nor austerities are required, nor is pressure exerted upon the mind to believe in comprehensible dogmas.

Islam does not call upon its followers to retire either in despair or disgust from the society of their fellow men, seeking consolation in the lonely places or gloomy forests. Nor does it call upon immerse in materialism, but it is a well balanced and organised code of life. In the very essence of his creation, man is but a curious blending of the mortal and the spiritual. Such being the nature blessed the mankind with a religion which leads them to the path of perfection and salvation in the spiritual and the material aspects of life.

In the teachings of Islam, both these aspects are not only reconciled to each other in sense that there is no inherent conflict between the bodily and the moral existence of man, but the fact of their co-existence is insisted upon as the natural basis of life. The essential greatness of Islam lies in its being a religion eminently suited to the requirements of man’s daily life on this earth. Islam neither ignores the limitations and imperfections of mankind, nor does it stoop down to the level of encouraging what is mean ignoble. It takes full notice of the original tendencies in human nature, and tries to build upon them a code of life that succeeds in retaining its highly elevating character. This thoroughly practicable code opens to one a peculiar and new vista on the possibilities of human society being organised with a minimum of internal conflicts and a maximum of real brotherly feeling.

If the principles and the teachings of the code of Islam and are carefully examined we can find all its parts are harmoniously conceived to complement and support each other. Nothing is super flues and nothing is lacking, with the result of an absolute balance and solid composite while Islam teaches that all life is essentially a unity, it also shows man the practical way how he can produce within the limits of his individual, earthly life, the unity of ideas and actions both in his existence and in his consciousness.

Islam is simply a programme of life according to the laws of nature which God had decreed upon his creation. Its supreme achievement is the complete coordination of the spiritual and the material aspects of human life. Islam allows man a very wide margin in his personal and social existence, so that the various qualities, temperaments and psychological inclinations of the different individuals may find the way to positive development according to their individual predisposition. Islam does not debar anyone from acquiring wealth through fair and honest means. He must shape personal and social life to the laws decreed by God. His duty is to make the best of himself, in order that he may honour the life gift which his Creator has bestowed upon him. He also is asked to help his fellow – beings, in their spiritual, social and material endeavours, by means of his own development.

The concept of worship in Islam is not restricted to the purely devotional practices, but it extends over the whole of man’s practical life. In this regard of the Holy Quran says:

قَدۡ أَفۡلَحَ ٱلۡمُؤۡمِنُونَ (١) ٱلَّذِينَ هُمۡ فِى صَلَاتِہِمۡ خَـٰشِعُونَ (٢) وَٱلَّذِينَ هُمۡ عَنِ ٱللَّغۡوِ مُعۡرِضُونَ (٣) وَٱلَّذِينَ هُمۡ

لِلزَّكَوٰةِ فَـٰعِلُونَ (٤) وَٱلَّذِينَ هُمۡ لِفُرُوجِهِمۡ حَـٰفِظُونَ (٥) إِلَّا عَلَىٰٓ أَزۡوَٲجِهِمۡ أَوۡ مَا مَلَكَتۡ أَيۡمَـٰنُہُمۡ فَإِنَّہُمۡ غَيۡرُ مَلُومِينَ

(٦) فَمَنِ ٱبۡتَغَىٰ وَرَآءَ ذَٲلِكَ فَأُوْلَـٰٓٮِٕكَ هُمُ ٱلۡعَادُونَ (٧) وَٱلَّذِينَ هُمۡ لِأَمَـٰنَـٰتِهِمۡ وَعَهۡدِهِمۡ رَٲعُونَ (٨) وَٱلَّذِينَ هُمۡ عَلَىٰ

لَوَٲتِہِمۡ يُحَافِظُونَ (٩)أُوْلَـٰٓٮِٕكَ هُمُ ٱلۡوَٲرِثُونَ (١٠) ٱلَّذِينَ يَرِثُونَ ٱلۡفِرۡدَوۡسَ هُمۡ فِيہَا خَـٰلِدُونَ (١١)

(Successful indeed are the believers who are humble in their prayers, And who shun vain conversation. And who are payers of the poor-due. And who guard their modesty. Save from their wives or the (slaves) that their right hands possess, for then they are not blameworthy. But whoso craveth beyond that, such are transgressors. And who are keepers of their pledge and their covenant. And who pay heed to their prayers. These are the heirs who will inherit paradise, There they will abide. ) (23:1-11)

If we perform all our actions consciously, according the plan of the Creator, such actions are regarded as worship and constituted as part of the Divine Rule. The Islamic doctrine is that man is originally good and pure, but it is also implied that unbelief in God and lack of good actions destroy this original perfection and purity. As in the Holy Quran we are told:

لَقَدۡ خَلَقۡنَا ٱلۡإِنسَـٰنَ فِىٓ أَحۡسَنِ تَقۡوِيمٍ۬ (٤) ثُمَّ رَدَدۡنَـٰهُ أَسۡفَلَ سَـٰفِلِينَ (٥)إِلَّا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ وَعَمِلُواْ ٱلصَّـٰلِحَـٰتِ فَلَهُمۡ

جۡرٌ غَيۡرُ مَمۡنُونٍ۬ (٦)

(Surely We created man of the best stature. Then we reduced him to the lowest of the low, Save those who believe and do good works, and theirs is a reward unfailing.) (95:4-6)

Thus Islam is not only a spiritual attitude of mind adjustable to different settings, but a self sufficing orbit of cultural and a social system of clearly defined nature. It is emphatic in the assertion that man can reach perfection in his earthly, individual life by making full use of his life. In this way Islam gives this life the status of a self contained and positive entity.

The Almighty and All-Wise Creator must have a purpose behind His creation of the Universe. It also follows that the Almighty Creator will not have created the mankind without a purpose. Not only that the doctrine of purposeful creation is applied to man in a special way. The Lord who has Created, Cherished, Nourished and Fashioned man through many stages and forms will not leave him without a purpose or aim. The Holy Quran says:

أَيَحۡسَبُ ٱلۡإِنسَـٰنُ أَن يُتۡرَكَ سُدًى

(Does man think that he will be left aimless?) (75:36)

So everything the universe is subject to a particular law and order and part of a well ordered system. There is nothing without beneficient and good reason. The Holy Quran refers to this ultimate purpose as follows:

خَلَقَ ٱللَّهُ ٱلسَّمَـٰوَٲتِ وَٱلۡأَرۡضَ بِٱلۡحَقِّ‌ۚ إِنَّ فِى ذَٲلِكَ لَأَيَةً۬ لِّلۡمُؤۡمِنِينَ

(Allah created the heavens and the earth with truth. Lo! Therein is indeed a portent for believers)

(29:44)

Man, by his nature and by his position in the universe, is created for the Service of God. This service entitles him to be the agent of God in the earth and makes him the most noble in the sight of Him. This agency requires first of all that man should know his Lord in a real knowledge and his Guidance. There are the laws of nature and the laws of spiritual, all operating in their respective spheres. But they all proceed from God and are consistent with and complementary to each other.

There is no conflict between the laws of the nature and the Divine revealed from God to his Messengers and Prophets for mankind. The following Quranic verse has dealt fully with the real concept of life, in all its dimensions and is all its various activities:

(So set thy purpose (O Muhammad) for religion as a man by nature upright – the nature (framed) of Allah, in which He hath created man. There is no altering (the laws of) Allah’s creation. That is the right religion, but most men know no) (30:30)

We have seen in this verse that the true religion is to follow man’s original nature. A complete guidance has been provided, by the All-Wise Creator, for the regulation of human life in all circumstances. That is the greatest manifestation of God’s beneficence. He is the Creator of the universe and is Guardian over all things, and the light of the heavens and the earth. There is but one true path, the universal path of all mankind.

That is the path of Divine Guidance in all walks of life. This guidance is alike for all, without distinction of race colour, country or nationality.

We have been taught that the purpose of man’s life is that he should become the agent of God on earth and a manifestation of His attributes. God has endowed man with the best and most appropriate faculties for the achievement of that purpose. He has constrained to man’s service the heavens and the earth and all that is in the universe to help him achieve the purpose of his creation. This universe is bound by law and operates in accordance therewith. This certainty is the basis of all knowledge and research.

We thus find that the universe has been constrained to the service of man to help him achieve the purpose of life, which is that man should become a manifestation of God’s attributes. This concept would help us to realise how great a bounty of God is life, and how immense is the trust committed to man has been created in the image of God. This idea is expressed in the above Quranic verse – the nature (framed) of Allah in which He has created and (fashioned) man – that is to say that man has been created pure and free from any deviation from the upright path. So, evil comes in his life from outside of his true nature, through his neglect or default, but it is possible for him through sincere repentance to retrace his course and win back to purity and righteousness.

Thus, Islam reminded man that he is the purposeful product of God. He is not that product of chance. It also taught that man has a guided destiny in this life and hereafter.

Fasting : an Institution for Moral Elevation and Spiritual Development

Al-Azhar Magazine October 1973

Fasting is a universally recognised religious instituition. It was enjoined upon all nations and prescribed in all scriptures before Quran. This universal character of the institution of fasting is made clear in the Holy Quran ( Verse 183, Chapter 2). It does not mean that the fasts observed by the different religious communities are alike in number of days, the time or manner of fasting, or in other incidents; but it only means that the principle of self-denial by fasting is not a new one.

Islam has introduced quite a new meaning into the institution of fasting. Although the Muslim fast is stricter than other fasts, it also makes easier in special circumstances. Fasting in Islam meant an institution for the improvement of the moral and spiritual character of man. The object is that man may learn how he can shun evil, for one who is able to renounce the lawful satisfaction of his desire in obedience to the Will of God, certainly acquires the power to renounce the unlawful satisfactions.

If it was merely a temporary abstention from food and drink it would be salutary to many people who habitually eat and drink to excess. In fact abstention from food is but a step to make a man realise how more expedient it is that he should refrain from evil. Fasting is , infact, like a sort of training of man’s faculties, for as every faculty of man requires training to attain its full force, the faculty of submission to Divine will should also require to be trained.

One must abstain during every day of the month of Ramadan from eating, drinking and smoking from dawn to sunset, he must likewise abstain from thinking of carnal and other pleasures. It appears a rigorous discipline, but one can get accustomed to it very soon if he shows good will and inclination. The fast extends over a lunar month. The result is that the month of fasting (Ramadan) rotates turn by turn through all the seasons of the year, summer, winter, autumn and spring. In this way one undergoes all these experiences as a spiritual discipline in obedience to the Will of God.

In order to subjugate the body to the spirit, it is necessary to break the force of the body and increase that of the spirit. It is evidenced by the experience that nothing is as efficacious for this purpose as hunger, thirst, renunciation of carnal desires, and the control of the tongue, the mind with its thoughts and other organs. Nature sometimes rebels, and its behaviour at other times is one of submissiveness. It has been remarked that the over power of animal nature hinders the perfection of the human spirit, and fasting brings comfort of the mind and purification of the soul.

It is worth to be observed that neither eating nor drinking is the characteristic of the Angels; and in imposing this habit, man makes himself resemble the Angels, and his actions are intended to conform to the commands of God. The ultimate result of this systematic practice may be more amd more approach to obtain the nearness of God and His pleasures which is the supreme aim of purposeful life on this earth, and the highest grade of spiritual development.

The instituition of fasting in Islam has the legitimate object of restraining the passions, by abstinence for a limited and definite period, from all the gratifications of the senses, and directing the overflow of the animal feelings into a moral channel. This rule of abstinence is restricted to the day time. In the night time the Muslim is allowed to refresh the system by partaking in moderation of food and drink and otherwise enjoying himself lawfully.

During the fast abstinence of mind from all bare thoughts is as incumbent as the abstinence of the body unnecessary mortification of the human body is condemned in Islam. Fasting is prescribed to the able-bodied person as a means of chastening the spirit by imposing restraint in the body. For example, the sick, the traveller, the weak and the women in their ailments are allowed to do not keep fast in the month of Ramadan, and they may fast an equal number of other days.

The rules and wisdom of the institution of fasting are summerised in the following verses of the Quran:

شَہۡرُ رَمَضَانَ ٱلَّذِىٓ أُنزِلَ فِيهِ ٱلۡقُرۡءَانُ هُدً۬ى لِّلنَّاسِ وَبَيِّنَـٰتٍ۬ مِّنَ ٱلۡهُدَىٰ وَٱلۡفُرۡقَانِ‌ۚ فَمَن شَہِدَ مِنكُمُ

ٱلشَّہۡرَ فَلۡيَصُمۡهُ‌ۖ وَمَن ڪَانَ مَرِيضًا أَوۡ عَلَىٰ سَفَرٍ۬ فَعِدَّةٌ۬ مِّنۡ أَيَّامٍ أُخَرَ‌ۗ يُرِيدُ ٱللَّهُ بِڪُمُ ٱلۡيُسۡرَ وَلَا

يُرِيدُ بِڪُمُ ٱلۡعُسۡرَ وَلِتُڪۡمِلُواْ ٱلۡعِدَّةَ وَلِتُڪَبِّرُواْ ٱللَّهَ عَلَىٰ مَا هَدَٮٰكُمۡ وَلَعَلَّڪُمۡ تَشۡكُرُونَ (١٨٥)

(The month of Ramadan in which was revealed the Qur’an, a guidance for mankind, and clear proofs of the guidance, and the Criterion (of right and wrong). And whosoever of you is present, let him fast the month, and whosoever of you is sick or on a journey, (let him fast the same) number of other days. Allah desireth for you ease; He desireth not hardship for you; and (He desireth) that ye should complete the period, and that ye should magnify Allah for having guided you, and that peradventure ye may be thankful.) (2:185)

Towards an Ideal Society

Towards an Ideal Society

Al-Azhar Magazine – November 1973

Islam aims at building up a society in which there is no class conflict or discrimination, but it retains such of the classes and groups was needed for the harmonious development of the social organism. These classes and groups are the limbs of the same body functioning systematically for the healthy development of the body as a whole. The most important factor which develops an ideal society is organised family life. Islam contributed much towards a healthy and sound family by prescribing an ideal marriage system, because it leads to build up a sound family. A society built up of such families, undoubtedly, will be an ideal society

The Concept of Marriage:

The marriage system is not restricted to human beings, animals and plants, but is a vast and accurate universal law which established itself in individual beings and divided every being into two parts endowing each part with an unknown power different from that in the other part, similar to the neagative and positive currents in electricity. The unknown power in the positive current is different from that in the negative current, and the natural law will not produce its effect unless both powers meet together joining both negative and positive currents in the well known method. If both powers do not meet together the law will remain ineffective and the eternal yearning for the positive to meet he negative and vice versa will continue to exist. The Holy Quran says:

وَمِن ڪُلِّ شَىۡءٍ خَلَقۡنَا زَوۡجَيۡنِ لَعَلَّكُمۡ تَذَكَّرُونَ

And all things We have created by pairs, that haply ye may reflect. (51:49)

This means that ‘marriage’ is an original necessity for all beings in this world, but we do not mean by this what psychologists call sexual instinct or parenthood “instinct”. What we mean is a far deeper secret more closely connected with the laws of the universe because the logic displayed in this holy verse covers everything created by God: plants, animals, human beings,…. and other things unknown to us: the Holy Quran says:

سُبۡحَـٰنَ ٱلَّذِى خَلَقَ ٱلۡأَزۡوَٲجَ ڪُلَّهَا مِمَّا تُنۢبِتُ ٱلۡأَرۡضُ وَمِنۡ أَنفُسِهِمۡ وَمِمَّا لَا يَعۡلَمُونَ

Glory be to Him Who created all the sexual pairs, of that which the earth groweth, and of themselves, and of that which they know not! (36:36)

Man is a social animal, or he is civilised by nature as people say; he has the selfishness and individualism of animals, and has, from the civil point of view, the tendency to gather together, settle down and cooperate to develop and improve. In him, animal nature contradicts human nature; his repulsive nature contradicts the nature of living in a society.

This makes his life complicated and his history full of breaches of social systems and deviations from their requirements. The efforts to reconcile these two contradictory tendencies formed important parts of the missions of reformers and prophets to realize coherence between individual and society. Undoubtedly, the most successful effort made by man in this respect is the attempt which led to the formation of the family system in the way known to ancient and modern civilised societies because it led us to the natural position in which our authentic nature prospers and produces good fruits for the individual and the society.

Islam is the only heavenly and legislated law which originally instituted marriage between individual beings. This basic institution leads us to meditate carefully when we look into “marriage” as a necessity for every individual and for society.

When we consider the organic formations which indicate the distinction between the feminine and masculine body, and look into the function of the womb in the woman and other distinctive features, we shal clearly realise that nature did not intend by these original distinctions to satisfy the sexual pleasure of the two spouses but it actually aimed at a sort of “multiplication” to maintain the existence of the human kind in line with the purpose and aim of Allah by His creation. Sexual pleasures was never the purpose for which these distinctions were made, but it was made, to force man to fulfil the aim of the nature in maintaining the existence of the human kind.

No doubt that human beings, especially women suffer in performing duty, immense pains, toubles, weakness and sickness that are apt to turn him or her away from it or even make them shrink thereform.

Man is selfish by nature. This selfishness will, at least make him avoid pains. If he is , therefore, let alone in connection with his duty to preserve mankind he will never care for it, and if he tried it once; such an experience would turn him and others from it. Divine wisdom has, therefore, planted in him sufficient lust to stir his imagination and enkindle his despair and spur him to attain it in the well known Beastly manner to fulfil God’s decision to maintain mankind. Hence the Holy Quran stated that the aim of sexual appetite is not obtain one’s lust, but childbirth, where it says:

فَٱلۡـَٔـٰنَ بَـٰشِرُوهُنَّ وَٱبۡتَغُواْ مَا ڪَتَبَ ٱللَّهُ لَكُمۡ

“ So hold intercourse with them and seek that which Allah hath ordained for you “ (2:187)

Interpreters say that this means that we should aim at child birth. The preservation of mankind is nature;s intention from the creation of the male and the female. If man limits his aims to the mere obtainment of pleasure he would deviate from nature’s rule.. and man will not be in order unless he follows the rules of his original nature and existence.

A cure to Selfishness:

One of the significant sides of marriage is that man describes for himself a “private are” to satisfy his sexual desires in such a way as not to transgress upon the areas of others. In this way he cures his selfishness by himself and trains himself to remain with in certain limits paying full regard to the rights of others. By this, he, no doubt, takes successful step towards his social capabilities.

By marriage both spouses agree on a deep auto-suggestion basis to live together and exchange desires in love and joy and mutual cooperation which, under certain circumstances and the presence of children, become strengthened by more kindness, altruism and tenderness. A further significance is that when spouses agree on this deep auto- suggestion and kind feelings, they reduce their selfishness and consequently increase the circle of their kind feelings to embrace others i.e their children: they exchange kind feelings in a manner previously unknown because this kindness of man was solely limited to himself. This is a wide step that cures his selfishness and strengthens his moral existence in the field of social capabilities.

Another significance of the marriage system is that when man strives in his economical horizon and distributes his earnings among his children or others, he has started to serve others instead of serving himself alone as he used to do in the past, and he now gives preference to others instead of keeping everything for himself, only. This is a remarkable development in forming his social personality. The real significance of marriage is that a man be connected with a woman, in both their physical and human characteristics. The physical connection results in children and in the continuous existence of the human kind.

The Objects of Marriage:

If man knows that marriage is an eternal law and the he himself was adapted to this law, he will get a clear idea about himself and find a way to good and happiness. Marriage was made for childbirth and for comfort and an agreement on something that produces kindness, mercy and good feelings and relations. It is clear that the best wives are those who have the spiritual characteristics which make them abler than others to fulfil the sensual and moral aims of marriage in the best manner.

Therefore, the efforts of a wise person should be directed towards looking for noble qualities, beautiful thoughts and good character which represents noble humanity. But there are people who ignore the value of life and look at it as a fortune to be obtained and lavishness which satisfies the senses of the body. Such a person, therefore, makes wealth an essential condition in the girl he engages.

This is a deviation from the nature of things and using marriage for a purpose other than the one for which it was legislated. The Prophet, therefore, say “Do not marry woman for their wealth, lest their wealth makes them tyrannical”.

The human connection allows the innate human characteristics to grow and thrive in their souls by giving comfort, friendship, kindness, mercy and mutuality and this is the meaning which is expressed in the following Quranic verse: “ …. that ye might find rest in them, an He ordained between you Love and mercy…..”

If the function of man on this earth is to bring children, one of his most important functions, as well, it to invent the virtues of kindness, good relations, getting acquainted with others, altruism, condolence and cooperation…. Without these virtues, man will be a dormant energy without any mission, and these virtues are the only means to make society worthy of any reverence or respect.

These objects are not to be realized, in a way acceptable by nature and society, unless marriage is consummated in the manner decreed for us by God. Because marriage is the joining together of qualities with qualities, the basis of the acceptance for the man who offers to engage a woman should be character and religion.

It will be mere complications and idolatry contrary to rules and actual facts to let aside the appreciation of religion and character and care for other things such as richness, class, position, nationality, colour…. etc. He is a man and that is all. His share of humanity will indicate whether he is capable for the woman he is engaging. Islam laid down the basis of this human preference, as the Quran said:

إِنَّ أَڪۡرَمَكُمۡ عِندَ ٱللَّهِ أَتۡقَٮٰكُمۡ

It means: “Lo! The Noblest of You, in the sight of Allah is the best in conduct” (49 :13)

Therefore, a man who has good conduct, high education and profound religious feeling and respectful personality, will be capable for the best woman in any class, nation or colour. In this high standard of thought, the prophet says, “ If a person with acceptable character and religion comes to you, let him be married. If you do not do so, there will be great disturbance, and affliction on earth.”

In this way the Islamic marriage system removes effectively all barriers that divide a brother from brother, or family from family on the basis of descent, inheritance, wealth, and social or political position, and builds up a society on the basis of equality and fraternity among individuals and groups.

The Authenticity of the Holy Quran

The Authenticity of the Holy Quran

Al-Azhar Magazine – March 1974

The word ‘Quran’ is an infinitive noun from the root ‘Qaraa’ which signifies: he collected together things or he read or recited. According to some authorities, the name of this Holy Book, Al-Quran, is due to its gathering in itself the principal teachings of all the world Divine Books, rather its being a collection of the fruits of all the sciences etc. It also means a book that is or should be read. It was revealed in Arabic language to Prophet Muhammad ( peace be upon him) who delivered it to mankind. It was revealed in portions, every portion being written and committed to memory as soon as it was revealed. The revelation of it was spread over 23 years of the Holy Prophet’s life.

The Holy Quran speaks of itself under various names. It is called ‘Al-Kitab’(the Book) :

ذَٲلِكَ ٱلۡڪِتَـٰبُ لَا رَيۡبَ‌ۛ فِيهِ‌ۛ هُدً۬ى لِّلۡمُتَّقِينَ

(This is the Scripture whereof there is no doubt, a guidance unto those who ward off (evil)) (2:2)

It signifies the writing is complete in itself.

‘Al-Furqan’ ( the Distinguisher between right and wrong and between truth and falsehood):

تبَارَكَ ٱلَّذِى نَزَّلَ ٱلۡفُرۡقَانَ عَلَىٰ عَبۡدِهِۦ لِيَكُونَ لِلۡعَـٰلَمِينَ نَذِيرًا

(Blessed is He Who hath revealed unto His slave the Criterion (of right and wrong), that he may be a warner to the people. ) (25 : 1)
‘Al-Dhikr’ ( the Reminder):

إِنَّا نَحۡنُ نَزَّلۡنَا ٱلذِّكۡرَ وَإِنَّا لَهُ ۥ لَحَـٰفِظُونَ

(Lo! We, even We, reveal the Reminder, and lo! We verily are its Guardian.) (15:9)

‘Al- Tanzil’( the revelation from a high):

وَإِنَّهُ ۥ لَتَنزِيلُ رَبِّ ٱلۡعَـٰلَمِينَ

(And lo! it is a revelation of the Lord of the Worlds, ) (26:192)

‘Al-Hukm’ ( the Judgement):

وَكَذَٲلِكَ أَنزَلۡنَـٰهُ حُكۡمًا عَرَبِيًّ۬ا‌ۚ وَلَٮِٕنِ ٱتَّبَعۡتَ أَهۡوَآءَهُم بَعۡدَمَا جَآءَكَ مِنَ ٱلۡعِلۡمِ مَا لَكَ مِنَ ٱللَّهِ مِن وَلِىٍّ۬ وَلَا وَاقٍ۬

(Thus have We revealed it, a decisive utterance in Arabic; and if thou shouldst follow their desires after that which hath come unto thee of knowledge, then truly wouldst thou have from Allah no protecting friend nor defender.) (13 :37)

‘Al-Huda’ (the Guidance):

وَأَنَّا لَمَّا سَمِعۡنَا ٱلۡهُدَىٰٓ ءَامَنَّا بِهِۦ‌ۖ فَمَن يُؤۡمِنۢ بِرَبِّهِۦ فَلَا يَخَافُ بَخۡسً۬ا وَلَا رَهَقً۬ا

(And when we heard the guidance, we believed therein, and whoso believeth in his Lord, he feareth neither loss nor oppression.) (72:13)
‘Al-Bayan’ ( the Explanation or Plain statement) :

هَـٰذَا بَيَانٌ۬ لِّلنَّاسِ وَهُدً۬ى وَمَوۡعِظَةٌ۬ لِّلۡمُتَّقِينَ

(This is a declaration for mankind, a guidance and an admonition unto those who ward off (evil))

(3 : 138)

‘Al-Burhan’ ( the Proof):

يَـٰٓأَيُّہَا ٱلنَّاسُ قَدۡ جَآءَكُم بُرۡهَـٰنٌ۬ مِّن رَّبِّكُمۡ وَأَنزَلۡنَآ إِلَيۡكُمۡ نُورً۬ا مُّبِينً۬ا

(O mankind! Now hath a proof from your Lord come unto you, and We have sent down unto you a clear light;) (4:174)

‘Al-Nour’ (the Light):

ٱلَّذِينَ يَتَّبِعُونَ ٱلرَّسُولَ ٱلنَّبِىَّ ٱلۡأُمِّىَّ ٱلَّذِى يَجِدُونَهُ ۥ مَكۡتُوبًا عِندَهُمۡ فِى ٱلتَّوۡرَٮٰةِ وَٱلۡإِنجِيلِ يَأۡمُرُهُم بِٱلۡمَعۡرُوفِ وَيَنۡہَٮٰهُمۡ عَنِ ٱلۡمُنڪَرِ وَيُحِلُّ لَهُمُ ٱلطَّيِّبَـٰتِ وَيُحَرِّمُ عَلَيۡهِمُ ٱلۡخَبَـٰٓٮِٕثَ وَيَضَعُ عَنۡهُمۡ إِصۡرَهُمۡ وَٱلۡأَغۡلَـٰلَ ٱلَّتِى كَانَتۡ عَلَيۡهِمۡ‌ۚ فَٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ بِهِۦ وَعَزَّرُوهُ وَنَصَرُوهُ وَٱتَّبَعُواْ ٱلنُّورَ ٱلَّذِىٓ أُنزِلَ مَعَهُ ۥۤ‌ۙ أُوْلَـٰٓٮِٕكَ هُمُ ٱلۡمُفۡلِحُونَ

(Those who follow the messenger, the Prophet who can neither read nor write, whom they will find described in the Torah and the Gospel (which are) with them. He will enjoin on them that which is right and forbid them that which is wrong. He will make lawful for them all good things and prohibit for them only the foul; and he will relieve them of their burden and the fetters that they used to wear. Then those who believe in him, and honour him, and help him, and follow the light which is sent down with him: they are the successful) (7: 157)

‘Al- Haqq’ (the Truth):

وَقُلۡ جَآءَ ٱلۡحَقُّ وَزَهَقَ ٱلۡبَـٰطِلُ‌ۚ إِنَّ ٱلۡبَـٰطِلَ كَانَ زَهُوقً۬ا

(And say: Truth hath come and falsehood hath vanished away. Lo! falsehood is ever bound to vanish.) (17 :81)

Besides these names, there is also a large number of qualifying words applied to it. For instance, it is called : ‘Kareem’ (honourable); ‘Majeed’( Glorious); ‘Hakeem’ (Wise); ‘Mubarak’ (Blessed); ‘Mubeen’ ( the one making things manifest); ‘Fas’l’( Decision); ‘Azeem’ (Great).

The name Quran is frequently mentioned in the Book itself which also states, to whom, when in what language, how and why it was revealed. In one of the reports speaking of the revelation to prophet Muhammad, the Angel who brought the revelation is called ‘Al Namus al-Akbar’ ( the great Namus). Namus means the Angel who is entrusted with bringing down the messages of God to His Prophets. The same report adds that it was the very same Angel that brought revelation to Moses.

It should be noted that the Holy Quran’s statement in this regard:

وَإِنَّهُ ۥ لَتَنزِيلُ رَبِّ ٱلۡعَـٰلَمِينَ (١٩٢) نَزَلَ بِهِ ٱلرُّوحُ ٱلۡأَمِينُ (١٩٣) عَلَىٰ قَلۡبِكَ لِتَكُونَ مِنَ ٱلۡمُنذِرِينَ (١٩٤) بِلِسَانٍ عَرَبِىٍّ۬ مُّبِينٍ

(And lo! it is a revelation of the Lord of the Worlds, Which the True Spirit hath brought down . Upon thy heart, that thou mayst be (one) of the warners, In plain Arabic speech.) (26: 192-195)

قُلۡ نَزَّلَهُ ۥ رُوحُ ٱلۡقُدُسِ مِن رَّبِّكَ بِٱلۡحَقِّ لِيُثَبِّتَ ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ وَهُدً۬ى وَبُشۡرَىٰ لِلۡمُسۡلِمِينَ

(Say: The holy Spirit hath revealed it from thy Lord with truth, that it may confirm (the faith of) those who believe, and as guidance and good tidings for those who have surrendered (to Allah).)

(16 : 102)

قُلۡ مَن كَانَ عَدُوًّ۬ا لِّجِبۡرِيلَ فَإِنَّهُ ۥ نَزَّلَهُ ۥ عَلَىٰ قَلۡبِكَ بِإِذۡنِ ٱللَّهِ مُصَدِّقً۬ا لِّمَا بَيۡنَ يَدَيۡهِ وَهُدً۬ى وَبُشۡرَىٰ لِلۡمُؤۡمِنِينَ

(Say (O Muhammad, to mankind): Who is an enemy to Gabriel! For he it is who hath revealed (this Scripture) to thy heart by Allah’s leave, confirming that which was (revealed) before it, and a guidance and glad tidings to believers; ) (2 : 97)

Thus, both the Holy Quran and the authentic reports make it clear that Divine revelations were brought to Muhammad, as well as other Prophets before him by the Anger Gebriel who is also called the Holy Spirit or the Faithful Spirit or the Great Namus.

The Holy Quran is the word of God revealed through the Holy Spirit, that is the Angel Gabriel. Though it was revealed in portions, as pointed out above, yet the entire revelation is one whole, delivered in one and the same manner. According to the Holy Quran, revelation is granted to man in three forms :

وَمَا كَانَ لِبَشَرٍ أَن يُكَلِّمَهُ ٱللَّهُ إِلَّا وَحۡيًا أَوۡ مِن وَرَآىِٕ حِجَابٍ أَوۡ يُرۡسِلَ رَسُولاً۬ فَيُوحِىَ بِإِذۡنِهِۦ مَا يَشَآءُ‌ۚ إِنَّهُ ۥ عَلِىٌّ حَڪِيمٌ۬

(And it was not (vouchsafed) to any mortal that Allah should speak to him unless (it be) by revelation or from behind a veil, or (that) He sendeth a messenger to reveal what He will by His leave. Lo! He is Exalted, Wise.) (42 : 51)

The first of these forms is called ‘Wahy’ which is used in its lateral sense i.e an inspiration or a suggestion thrown into the mind. It is not a message in words but simply an idea which clears up a doubt or a difficulty and it is not the result of a meditation.

The second form is described as speaking from behind a veil. The third form is that in which the messenger i.e. the Angel bearing the message, is sent to the recipient of the Divine Revelation, and the Divine message is delivered in words. This is the highest form of revelation. This third form of revelation is limited to the Prophets of God only, and the Angel entrusted with the Divine message in words is Gebriel.

For the delivery of the highest and most important Divine messages to humanity a higher form of revelation is chosen i.e. from in which the message is not simply an idea but it is clothed in actual words. The Prophet’s faculty of being spoken to by God is so highly developed that he receives the Divine messages, not only as ideas instilled into the mind or in the form of words uttered or heard, but actually as Divine messages in words deliverd through the Angel. In the terminology of Islam this is called ‘Wahy Mathluww’ ( revelation that is recited). The Holy Quran was from the beginning to the end delivered in this form the Prophet Muhammad ( peace be upon him ). In does not contain any other forms of revelation. It is, in its entirety, the revelation recited to the Prophet Muhammad distinctly in words. Thus the Quran is wholly the highest form of Divine revelation.

We are told in reports that before the highest form of revelation came to the Prophet, that is to say, before he received the first Quranic revelation used to have received the lower forms of revelations. According to Al-Bukhari, the first thing that came to the messenger of Allah of revelations were good visions so that he did not see a vision but it came true as the dawn of the day. The details of the law as expounded by him, and as met within the Sunna, belong to the first form of revelation; an idea instilled into the mind. This is called ‘Wahy Khafiyy’ (Inner revelation).

The most authentic book of ‘Sahih Al-Bukhari’ explains the nature of the Quranic revelation to the Prophet, quoting Haris Ibn Hisham, that once enquired of the Prophet how the revelation came to him and the reply was; “ It comes to me sometimes as the ringing of a bell and this is the hardest on me, then he leaves me and I remember from him what he says; and sometimes the Angel comes in the shape of a man and he talks to me and I Remember what he says”. In both cases the Angel Gebriel came to the Prophet and was seen by him; and delivered certain messages in words which the Prophet at once committed to memory.

The only difference between the two cases was that in once case the angel appeared in shape of a human being and uttered the words in a soft tone as one man talks to another; in the other case it is not stated in what form the angel came, but we are told that the words. Were uttered like the ringing of a bell, that is to say in hard tone, but still it was the Angel Gebriel who brought the message, as is clearly shown by the use of the personal pronoun – he leaves me – in the first part of the above report. So whether the angel appeared in human shape or not, whether the message was delivered in hard or soft tone, the one thing certain is that it was a message delivered in words; and therefore the Quranic revelation is entirely one message delivered in one form.

The revelation of the Quran in portions, and its arrangement, was a part of the Divine scheme. The Holy Quran is itself clear on these two points:

وَقَالَ ٱلَّذِينَ كَفَرُواْ لَوۡلَا نُزِّلَ عَلَيۡهِ ٱلۡقُرۡءَانُ جُمۡلَةً۬ وَٲحِدَةً۬‌ۚ ڪَذَٲلِكَ لِنُثَبِّتَ بِهِۦ فُؤَادَكَ‌ۖ وَرَتَّلۡنَـٰهُ تَرۡتِيلاً۬

(And those who disbelieve say: Why is the Qur’an not revealed unto him all at once? (It is revealed) thus that We may strengthen thy heart therewith; and We have arranged it in right order) (25: 32)

And:

إِنَّ عَلَيۡنَا جَمۡعَهُ ۥ وَقُرۡءَانَهُ ۥ (١٧) فَإِذَا قَرَأۡنَـٰهُ فَٱتَّبِعۡ قُرۡءَانَهُ ۥ (١٨) ثُمَّ إِنَّ عَلَيۡنَا بَيَانَهُ

(Lo! upon us (resteth) the putting together thereof and the reading thereof. And when We read it, follow thou the reading; Then lo! Upon Us (resteth) the explanation thereof) (75 : 17-19)

These verses show that the collecting together of the various parts of the Quran and its arrangement were affected by the Prophet under the guidance of Allah through the Angel Gebriel. History also bears testimony to this statements, for there are numerous persons whom the Prophet used to write down portions of the Holy Quran immediately after their revelation. Among them are the following profound companions of the Prophet: Zaid Ibn Thabit, Abu Bakr, Umer, Uthman, Ali, Zubair, Ubbay, Hanzala, Abdullah Ibn Saad, Abdullah Ibn Arqaam, Abdullah Ibn Rawaha, Khalid and Abn Ibn Said.

It was customary with the Prophet of Allah that when the portions of different chapters were revealed to him, and when any verse was revealed, he called one of the writers of the Holy Quran and said to him: Write this verse in the chapter where such and such verses occurred. Though the Holy Quran was revealed in portions, yet it is a mistake to suppose that it remained long in fragmentary condition.

Its very name implies, it was a book from the first, and though it could not complete until the last verse was revealed, it was never without some form of arrangement. For this, there is the clearest testimony internal as well as external, that every single verse or part of a verse and every chapter that was revealed had its own definite place in the Holy Book. At Makkah in the earliest days there were Abu Bakr, Ali, Khadija, wife of the Prophet, and others who wrote down the portions revealed. The Prophet took the greatest care to have a writer and writing materials with him under all conditions, and even when he had to flee for his life to Madinah, he had still writing material, with him (Bukhari). At Madinah, ‘Zaid Ibn Thabit’ was chiefly called upon to do this work, and in his absence any of the other writers would take his table.

This was the reason why Zaid was chosen to collect the Quran writings in the time of Abu Bakr, and again to do the work of transcription in the times of Uthman.

The whole Quran thus was arranged by the Prophet himself under the Divine Guidance and existed in a complete and ordered form in the memories of people in the lifetime of the Prophet, but no complete written copied of it existed at the time, nor could such copies be made while the Prophet was still alive and receiving revelation. But the whole of the Quran in one arrangement was safely preserved in the memories of men who were called ‘Qurra’ (reciters). It happened, however, that many of the reciters fell in the famous battle of ‘Yamama’ in the Caliphate of Abu Bakr, and it was then that Umar urged upon Abu Bakr the necessity of compiling a standard written copy of the Quran. And this was compiled, not from the hundreds of copies that had been made by individual companions for their own use, but from the manuscripts written under the direction of the Prophet himself. The arrangement followed was that of the oral recitation as followed in the time of the Prophet. Thus a standard written copy as prepared which was entrusted to care of Hafza, wife of the Prophet and daughter of Umar (Al-Bukhari).

In fact the Holy Quran was preserved in complete written copies and, in the memories of the Companions of the Prophet under his own arrangements, guidance and supervision. The third Caliph Uthman ordered copies to be made from the standard copy prepared from the manuscript written in the presence of the Prophet, following the order of chapters which was followed by reciters under the directions of Prophet himself. Uthman also ordered to make those copies from the original copy which was entrusted to care of Hafza, under the supervision of the great writers companions of the Prophet: Zaid Ibn Thabit, Abdullah Ibn Zubair, Said Ibn Al-As, Abdu Rahman Ibn Haris Ibn Hisham. When they had made the required number of copies from the original copy, Uthman returned the original to Hafza, and sent to every quarter one of these standard copies, and ordered all other copies or leaves on which the Quran was written to be burnt.

There is a collective testimony of the purity of the Quranic text. It is a fact that every verse of the Holy Quran was , when revealed, promulgated and made public; it became a part of the public prayer and was repeated day and night to be listened to by an audience of hundreds. When the written manuscripts of the Holy Quran were first collected into one volume in the time of Abu BAkr, and later on when copies were made from that original in the time of Uthman, there was unanimous testimony of all the Companions that every verse that found a place in that collection was part of the Divine Revelation. As to what is called the differences of reading or writing we should bear in mind the following facts:

The Quran was revealed in the dialect of the Qureish, for it is in their language that it was revealed. If there was only difference it was a difference only as to the mode of writing or tone of reciting words. There was no change of words, no change of verses, and no change in the order of the chapters, but as the Companions of the Prophet believed every word and every letter of the Holy Quran to be the revealed Word of God, they gave importance even to the slight difference in writing or reading in the Holy Quran.

There were slight differences in the spoken language of different tribes, the language of the Qureish being the model for the literary language. Now the Holy Quran was revealed in the dialect of the Qureish, the literary language of Arabia. But when towards the close of the Prophet’s life people from different Arabian tribes accepted Islam in large numbers it was found that they could not pronounce certain words in the idiom of the Qureish, being habituated from childhood to their own idiom, and it was then that the Prophet allowed them to pronounce a word according to their own peculiar idiom. This was done only to facilitate the recitation of the Holy Quran. The written Quran was one, it was all in the cheste idiom of the Qureish, but people belonging to to other tribes were allowed to pronounce it in their own way. It would be seen from this that these differences very significant.

The reading of the Quran is considered a pious duty by every Muslim and is actually performed in practice by every person, man, woman and child. The Quran is the original source from which all principles and ordinances of Islam are drawn. It is actually the real foundation on which the whole superstructure of Islam rests, being the only, absolute and final authority in every discussion relating to the principles and the laws of Islam, it is perfectly right to say that the Holy Quran is the Sole Source from which all the teachings and the practice of Islam are drawn.

The Significance of Hajj

The Significance of “Hajj”

Al-Azhar Magazine

Pilgrimage is a unique journey through which the Muslim reaches, with his soul and body, “the land made safe” (Mecca). There the visitor goes round the sacred house (Ka’ba), which is the symbol of unity of Islam and Muslim. Every Muslim should face the direction of “Ka’ba” every day in his prayers, and should visit and go round it once his lifetime.

“Ka’ba” or the ancient house, as it is sometimes called in the Quran, is the first place of worship for mankind. It was built by the Prophet Abraham, and his son the Prophet Ismail. Abraham is known in history as the first enemy to polytheism, the destroyer of idols, the symbol of Unitarian faith, and the father of the upright religion “hanifiyya”. No wonder that Abraham is linked to the Muslim nation with strong bonds. The Holy Quran says:

مَاكَانَ إِبۡرَٲهِيم ُيَہُودِيًّ۬ا وَلَانَصۡرَانِيًّ۬ا وَلَـٰكِن كَانَ حَنِيفً۬ا مُّسۡلِمً۬ا وَمَاكَانَ مِنَ ٱلۡمُشۡرِكِينَ )67)

“Abraham was not a Jew, nor yet a Christian; but he was an upright man who had surrendered (to Allah), and he was not of the idolaters.” (3:67)

Under such spiritual and historical considerations which attach Muslims to the Sacred House and its first builder Abraham, God, the Almighty, enjoined pilgrimage on every Muslim who is able to perform it. The Quran says:

إِنَّ أَوَّلَ بَيۡتٍ۬ وُضِعَ لِلنَّاسِ لَلَّذِى بِبَكَّةَ مُبَارَكً۬ا وَهُدً۬ى لِّلۡعَـٰلَمِينَ (٩٦) فِيهِ ءَايَـٰتُۢ بَيِّنَـٰتٌ۬ مَّقَامُ إِبۡرَٲهِيمَ‌ۖ وَمَن دَخَلَهُ ۥ كَانَ ءَامِنً۬ا‌ۗ وَلِلَّهِ عَلَى ٱلنَّاسِ حِجُّ ٱلۡبَيۡتِ مَنِ ٱسۡتَطَاعَ إِلَيۡهِ سَبِيلاً۬‌ۚ وَمَن كَفَرَ فَإِنَّ ٱللَّهَ غَنِىٌّ عَنِ ٱلۡعَـٰلَمِينَ (٩٧)

“Lo! the first Sanctuary appointed for mankind was that at Mecca, a blessed place, a guidance to the peoples; (96)Wherein are plain memorials (of Allah’s guidance); the place where Abraham stood up to pray; and whosoever entereth it is safe. And pilgrimage to the House is a duty unto Allah for mankind, for him who can find a way thither. As for him who disbelieveth, (let him know that) lo! Allah is Independent of (all) creatures. ” (3:96-97)

The pilgrimage was enjoined in the ninth year after Hijra. The first objective of all kinds of worship is obedience and gratitude to God. They are prescribed for ourhappiness here in this life and in the life to come. The Quran says:

وَأَذِّن فِى ٱلنَّاسِ بِٱلۡحَجِّ يَأۡتُوكَ رِجَالاً۬ وَعَلَىٰ ڪُلِّ ضَامِرٍ۬ يَأۡتِينَ مِن كُلِّ فَجٍّ عَمِيقٍ۬ (٢٧) لِّيَشۡهَدُواْ مَنَـٰفِعَ لَهُمۡ وَيَذۡڪُرُواْ ٱسۡمَ ٱللَّهِ فِىٓ أَيَّامٍ۬ مَّعۡلُومَـٰتٍ عَلَىٰ مَا رَزَقَهُم مِّنۢ بَهِيمَةِ ٱلۡأَنۡعَـٰمِ‌ۖ فَكُلُواْ مِنۡہَا وَأَطۡعِمُواْ ٱلۡبَآٮِٕسَ ٱلۡفَقِيرَ(٢٨)

“And proclaim unto mankind the pilgrimage. They will come unto thee on foot and on every lean camel; they will come from every deep ravine. That they may witness things that are of benefit to them, and mention the name of Allah on appointed days over the beast of cattle that He hath bestowed upon them. Then eat thereof and feed therewith the poor unfortunate.”(22: 27-28)

Pilgrimage is a spiritual provision for the Muslim. It fills his soul with obedience, fear of God, repentance from sins, love for the memory of the Prophet and the early believers who helped him, and the brotherly feelings. Pilgrimage also is real education by travel, and thus it adds to man’s knowledge and experience.

Pilgrimage, moreover may be considered a world conference for all Muslim nations; a Congress that is called for by God, the Almighty, for the noble purposes. There around and inside the sacred house, the Muslim meets his brothers in religion from all world continents. There will be no distinction between the one and the other. Differences of colour, race and nationality are levelled off, and the real bond between the Muslims is sincere brotherhood.

In the congress of pilgrimage Muslims forget all national and international disputes. The scholars of Islam realized the opportunity of their gathering for pilgrimage to exchange ideas. Caliphs, in the past used the season of pilgrimage to meet their subjects from remote places and investigate their problems. This pilgrimage is to be performed in the first nine days of Dhulhijja. The Holy Quran honours the months of pilgrimage and calls them the Sacred months because fighting, war and aggression were prohibited in these months since the building of the Sacred House.

The months of pilgrimage are Shawwal, Dhul-Qa’dah, DhulHijja and Muharram. This tradition was meant to give security to the pilgrims and visitors to Mecca. The Holy Quran says

إِنَّ عِدَّةَ ٱلشُّہُورِ عِندَ ٱللَّهِ ٱثۡنَا عَشَر شَہۡرً۬ا فِى ڪِتَـٰبِ ٱللَّهِ يَوۡمَ خَلَقَ ٱلسَّمَـٰوَٲت وَٱلۡأَرۡض مِنۡہَآ أَرۡبَعَةٌ حُرُم ذَٲلِكَ ٱلدِّينُ ٱلۡقَيِّمُ فَلَا تَظۡلِمُواْ فِيہِنَّ أَنفُسَڪُمۡ وَقَـٰتِلُواْٱلۡمُشۡرِڪِينَ كَآفَّةً۬ ڪَمَا يُقَـٰتِلُونَكُمۡ ڪَآفَّةً۬ وَٱعۡلَمُوٓاْ أَنَّ ٱللَّهَ مَعَ ٱلۡمُتَّقِينَ

“Lo! The number of the months with Allah is twelve months by Allah’s ordinance in the day that He created the heavens and the earth. Four of them are sacred: that is the right religion. So wrong not yourselves in them. And wage war on all of the idolaters as they are waging war on all of you. And know that Allah is with those who keep their duty (unto Him).” (9: 36)

Besides the temporal sacredness, there is a sacredness regarding the locality of the sacred House “ka’ba” and the Sacred town “Mecca” which extends over to include even the trees and animals of the area. So these sacred months are considered as a truce for all humankind.

There are basic actions and devotions to be performed in pilgrimage according to the order and system which was performed by prophet. The first thing to be done in pilgrimage is the entry into the state of “Ihram”. Ihram has two aspects: the first is to declare the intention to perform pilgrimage for the sake of God. The intention combined with casting off all seamed and sewn clothes, shaving the head and shunning all kinds of luxury, ornaments, obscene talk and offences. The second aspect of Ihram is the call of Talbiya. Entering the state of Ihram the Pilgrim shall raise his voice and say: “Here I am, O my Lord at your presence”.

This is a sign of obedience to show that the pilgrim resigning himself completely to the ordinance of God; that He, the Almighty is the sole owner of kingdom and favours and that to Him only is the praise and gratitude. When the Pilgrim reaches Mecca, goes to the sacred Mosque and goes round it seven times for salutation beginning from the side of the black stone. This stone is an ordinary one put by the prophet Abraham in its specific place to be a mark of the beginning encircling ka’ba. The next step is running between Safa and Marwa seven times beginning with Safa and ending with Marwa. Then the pilgrim starts for going to ‘Arafah or Arafath’. Provided he reaches his destination on theninth day of DhulHijja. The devotion of standing at Arafath is the most important of all pilgrimage actions, so that the Prophet is reported have said : “ pilgrimage is standing at Arafath”. When the Pilgrim leaves Arafah, he passes by the place known as “Muzdalifah” which is referred to in the Holy Quran as the Holy Monument. The pilgrim reaches the area of ‘Mina’ on the morning of the tenth day of the month of Dhulhijjah which is called ‘yawm al-Nahr’ or the slaughter Day, in which the pilgrim casts seven stones known as “Jamarat Al Aqaba”.

Throwing these stones, the pilgrim now is allowed to shave or cut short his hair. He is able to slaughter his offering if that is required of him. Then, he goes round Ka’ba in seven circuits called “Tawwaf Al Ifada”. But when the pilgrim intends to go back home he has to go round Ka’ba again as a farewell to the Sacred House. It is called “Tawwaf al Widaa’” or the “Farewell circuits”. By farewell circuits the pilgrimage ends and the pilgrim returns back home with heartfelt pleasure and satisfaction.

The Role of Islam in Spread of Knowledge

The Role of Islam in Spread of Knowledge

Al-Azhar Magazine June 1968

The first of the Quran to be revealed-verses 1-5 of the Surah ‘Al-Alaq’-itself bore testimony to the supreme value of knowledge and learning. Commenting on the meanings of these verses, Imam Zamakshari explains: ‘God taught human beings that which they do not know, and this testifies to the greatness of His beneficence, for He has given to His servants knowledge of that which they did not know. He has brought them out of the darkness of ignorance to light of knowledge, and made them aware of the knowledge of writing for great benefits accrue there from which God alone compassioned; and without the knowledge of writing no other knowledge could be comprehend nor the sciences placed with bounds, nor the history of the ancients be acquired and their sayings be recorded, nor the revealed books written; and if that knowledge did not exist, the affairs of them life could not be regulated’.

Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) preached of the value of knowledge. His devotion to knowledge and science distinguishes him from all other prophets and reformers of the world. He preached: “Acquire knowledge, because he, who acquires it in the way of the Lord, performs an act of piety; who speaks of it, praises the Lord; who seeks it, adores God; who dispenses instruction in it, bestows alms; and who imparts it to its fitting objects, performs an art of devotion to God. Knowledge enables its possessor to distinguish what is forbidden from what is not; it lights the way to heaven; It is our friend in the desert, our society in solitude, our companion when bereft of friend; it guides us to happiness; it sustains us in misery; it is ornament in the company of friends; it serves as an armor against our enemies. With knowledge, the servant of God rises to the heights of goodness and o noble position, associates with sovereigns in this world and attains to the perfection of happiness in the next world”.

The teachings of Islam gave a new impulse to the awakened energies of the Arabs Poetry, Oratory and judicial astrology formed the favorite objects of pursuit among the pre-Islamic Arab world. The prophet cultivated among them a holy spirit of knowledge and learning. He would often say the ink of the scholar was more holy than the blood of the martyr. And he repeatedly impressed on his disciples the necessity of seeking for knowledge, and he taught them that he who leaves his home in search of knowledge to him God shows the way to paradise. Even within his lifetime was formed the nucleus of an educational institution with all branches of knowledge. This nucleus in after years grew into great universities and educational centers at Baghdad, Cairo and Cordova. In spite of the upheaval during the periods of early Caliphs, science and literature were by no means neglected in the metropolises of Muslim world. It is reported that Imam Ali, and his cousin Ibn Abbas gave public lectures on mathematics, history, poetry and grammar; whilst other companions of the Prophet taught the arts of recitation and elocution etc. Some of them gave lessons even in calligraphy, which was an invaluable branch of knowledge in that time.

Naturally such sentiments on part of the Prophet and the disciples gave rise to a desire for learning. The practice of religion, the conservation of a devotional spirit, and the special cultivation of those branches of learning which were of practical value in the battle of everyday life, were the primary objects of the Muslim’s attention. With the percepts of the Prophet to light their path, they kept in view the development of humanity and devoted themselves to the cultivation of science and learning in all its branches. From ‘Medina’ a stream of unusual intellectual activity flowed to distant places.

It was towards the close of the Omeyyade Rule that several Muslim thinkers came into prominence whose lectures on many subjects then upper most in the minds of people attracted great attentions. Their ideas and conceptions molded the thoughts of succeeding generations. It was in the second century, however, that the literally and scientific activity of the Muslims commenced in the earnest and the chief impulse to this was given by the settlement of the Arab towns. The Arabs had carried with them into distant regions unexampled intellectual activities. Under the Abbaside period we find Muslims the repositories of the knowledge of the world. Every part of the globe is ransacked by the agents of the Caliphs for the hoarded wealth of antiquity; these are brought to the capital and laid before n admiring and appreciating public. Schools and academies spring up in every direction; public libraries are established in every city free to every commoner; the great philosophers of the ancient world are studied. The rulers themselves participated in literary meetings and philosophical discussions. Every city sought to outrival the other in the cultivation of arts and science. From every part of the globe students and scholars flocked to ‘Baghdad’, to ‘Cairo’ and to ‘Cordova’ in search of knowledge, and to listen to the words of the Arab sages!

The Sources of Islamic Laws

The Sources of Islamic Laws

Al-Azhar Magazine March 1969

The religion of Islam is a complete and concrete system dealing with man and his affairs in all walks of life. It is not only laid down the fundamental principles of faith and the practical devotions but it also distinctly defined the rules of transactions, moralities, penal laws, and social, economical and political systems. The Holy Quran is the fountain – head of Islamic laws. There are beside this standing miracle of Islam, three sources of Islamic Jurisprudence; namely, the Sunnah (traditions of the Prophet), Ijma (the unanimous opinion of the Muslim Jurisprudents) and Qiyas (Analogical decision of them).

  1. . The Holy Quran:

    Holy Quran is the first source of Islam. It contains the fundamental of the law of the Nature which governs man. The Quran and Nature are in perfect harmony, because ‘Dean’ or religion is defined in the clear verses of Quran as the ‘Fitrat’ or Nature of God. The Quran says:

    فَأَقِمۡ وَجۡهَكَ لِلدِّين حَنِيفً۬ا فِطۡرَتَ ٱللَّهِ ٱلَّتِى فَطَرَ ٱلنَّاسَ عَلَيۡہَا لَاتَبۡدِيلَ لِخَلۡقِ ٱللَّهِ ‌ۚ ذَٲلِكَ ٱلدِّينُ ٱلۡقَيِّم ُ وَلَـٰكِنّ أَڪۡثَر ٱلنَّاسِ لَا يَعۡلَمُون) ٣٠-سُوۡرَة الرُّوم (

    It means: “So set the purpose for religion as a man by nature upright the nature (famed) of Allah, in which He has created man. There is no altering (the law of) Allah’s creation. That is the right religion but most men know not”. (30:30)

    If any conflict between Quran and Nature appears it is not because of the conflict is real but because human study of Nature and of the Holy Quran is not perfect. Some people try to interpret the Quran to adjust it with the human interpretation of Nature. They claim that the knowledge of man is final and unfailing. This attitude definitely indicates the weakness of faith in the revelations of God. The Holy Quran is directly revealed from the Creator of Fitrat and the Will of God made manifest in His creation. So the Quran would lead to discoveries of the secrets of Nature, and a careful study ofNature will help the proper interpretation and understanding of the Quran. Whenever any contradiction between human knowledge, and the Holy Quran arises, the human interpretation of Nature must be rejected as mistaken. As human knowledge increases the Quran unfolds itself gradually like a flower leaf.

    Quran is the last of all revealed Books from God to the guidance of mankind. Humanity has been receiving guidance from God directly through revelation received by the Prophets, since the birth of man on the earth. The office of prophet hood was sealed and made final with the completion of revelation of the Holy Quran. The Quran calls people to believe not only in the Prophet hood of Muhammed (peace be upon him) and the revelation of the Quran, but it enjoins the belief in previous revelations and prophets. The Quran declares:

    وَٱلَّذِين يُؤۡمِنُونَ بِمَآ أُنزِل إِلَيۡكَ وَمَآ أُنزِلَ مِن قَبۡلِكَ وَبِٱلۡأَخِرَةِ هُم يُوقِنُونَ( ٤ -سُوۡرَةُالبَقَرَة(

    It means: “And who believe in that which is revealed unto thee (Muhammed) and that which was revealed before thee, and are certain of the Hereafter.” (2:4)

    Thus the belief in previous revelations and prophets is a fundamental of the Quranic call. It is further stated in the Holy Quran that the prophets were sent to every people, and the discrepancy found between the Holy Quran and previous revelations is definitely due to human interpretation. The Holy Quran discovers earlier revelations and makes them complete. It removes all doubts on this point when it proclaims:

    مَا نَنسَخۡ مِنۡ ءَايَةٍ أَو نُنسِهَا نَأۡتِ بخَيۡرٍ مِّنۡہَآ أَو مِثۡلِهَآ أَلَم تَعۡلَمۡ أَنَّ ٱللَّهَ عَلَىٰ كُلّ شَىۡءٍ قَدِيرٌ) ١٠٦ -سُوۡرَةُالبَقَرَة(

    It means: “Such of our revelations as We abrogate or cause to be forgotten, We bring (in place) one better or the like thereof. Knowest thou not that Allah is Able to do all things.” (2:106)

    Being the last revealed Book, the Quran contains universal and eternal truths previously revealed to mankind at various stages of its development. As such, it is a systematic and correctly formulated integration of past revelations and is the correct interpretation of man in relation to the Universe when a man and his nature were made complete. It correctly interprets life, guides humanity in the right path and keeps the torch of progress burning ever-fresh and bright through all ages to come. When such a complete and well-formulated Divine constitution guarantees preservation of it original purity, there will be no longer be need for further revelation. The Holy Quran speaks clearly on this point when it declares:

    فَمَنۡ أَظۡلَم مِمَّنِ ٱفۡتَرَىٰ عَلَى ٱللَّهِ كَذِبًا أَو كَذَّبَ بِـَٔايَـٰتِهِۦۤ أُوْلَـٰٓٮِٕك يَنَالُهُمۡ نَصِيبُہُم مِّنَ ٱلۡكِتَـٰبِ حَتَّىٰ إِذَاجَآءَتۡہُمۡ رُسُلُنَا يَتَوَفَّوۡنَہُم قَالُوٓاْ أَيۡنَمَا كُنتُم تَدۡعُونَ مِن دُونِ ٱللَّهِ‌ قَالُواْ ضَلُّواْ عَنَّا وَشَہِدُواْ عَلَىٰ أَنفُسِہِمۡ أَنَّہُمۡ كَانُواْ كَـٰفِرِينَ

    It means: “They say: Why hath no portent been sent down upon him from his Lord? Say: Lo! Allah is able to send down a portent. But most of them know not.” (7:37)

    The purpose of studying the Quran must be seeking knowledge and practical guidance in the aspects of life. The knowledge of Arabic Language and Literature is the key to the proper understanding and assimilation of the message of the Quran. But translations and commentaries of the Quran, which are now available in different languages, will help only to acquire some general knowledge of this Divine Book. The true spirit of this eternal miracle of Islam may not be felt without complete knowledge of Arabic and the life of the Prophet.

    The Quran laid down the principles of laws relating to rites, ceremonies and transactions. These principles needed explanation and sometime practical examples which were given by the Prophet. In this manner, the Prophet himself was the interpreter of the Quran. The interpretations of the Prophet may be divided into two parts:

    1. Explanation of the passages occurring in the Quran.
    2. Answer to questions or giving practical reflection on the texts of the Quranic passages. The Quran as a living miracle of Islam and the Prophet has retained its purity without the least change, for the last one thousand and four hundred years. The companions of the Prophet, particularly the inhabitants of Mecca and Medina, had occasion to lean the Quran and the Islamic doctrine directly from him. It is the original source of Islamic theology, jurisprudence, culture and civilization.
  2. . The Sunnah:

    The second source of Islamic laws is the Prophet himself as he is the recipient of the Quran and the typical model of the Quranic life. In him we find the percepts of Islamic teachings in their applied and concrete form. His percepts and examples are most reliable guide to the theoretical as well as practical knowledge of Islam. The record of his percepts and examples is called ‘Hadith’ or Prophetical traditions. Muhammed (peace be upon him) as all the Prophets, was a man and his distinction was that he received revelation. The prophet hood of Muhammed (peace be upon him) is an integral part of the Islamic Faith. But he is merely a messenger and perfect servant of Allah. The texts of the Kalima itself mentions this fundamental purity of faith in the Oneness of God. The Kalima says: “There is no God but Allah and Muhammed is His messenger” or “I witness that there is no God but Allah and I witness that Muhammed is His servant and messenger”.

    The Prophet lived only for 63 years and he received the first revelation in his 40th year. It is during these 23 years that he delivered his mission and worked. The nomadic children of desert who only a few years ago were the worst specimen of humanity, became during this short period of Muhammed’s mission, the best men in every respect-morally, culturally, socially and politically-and the teachers of the then civilized world.

    23 years in the life of an average man is not very much significant, for less as a whole this number only be lakened to the potentiality of carrying humanity from progress to progress. The Prophet transformed this potentiality, within such a small period of time into practical shape. Hence the traditions of the Prophet is known as ‘Sunna’ which literally means a way or rule, or manner or example of acting or mode of life. Sunna therefore indicates the actions, practices and sayings of the Prophet.

    The Prophet explained the teachings of Quran, and laid down the detailed principles of Islamic laws in three ways: by his saying or by his practices or by his silent approval of the practice of some person. Since Islam covered the whole spheres of human life, hundreds of points had to be explained by the messenger of God, through his example in actions and words. The Holy Quran required the people to follow him and it declared that he was the example of Quranic life:

    لَّقَدۡ كَانَ لَكُم فِى رَسُول ٱللَّهِ أُسۡوَةٌ حَسَنَةٌ لِّمَن كانَ يَرۡجُواْ ٱللَّهَ وَٱلۡيَوۡمَ ٱلۡأَخِرَ وَذَكَرَ ٱللَّهَ كَثِيرً۬ا

    It means: “Verily in the messenger of Allah ye have a good example for him who looketh unto Allah and Last Day, and remember Allah much.” (33:21)

    There is some mis-conceptions, in certain quarters, about the transmission and the recording of the Hadith during the life time of the Prophet. About the first point, it was a well established fact the transmission of the practices and sayings of the Prophet from one person to another became commen during the Prophet’s lifetime. The Prophet himself used to give instructions with regard to the transmission of his teachings. Whenever a deputation came to him in the early days of Medina, the Prophet concluded his instructions to them with the following words: “Remember this and report it to those whom you have left behind”. In some cases he said: “Go back to your people and teach them these things.” It is also reported that when ‘Mu’az bin Jabal’ appointed governor of Yemen by the Prophet, he was asked how would he judge cases and he replied: “By the Book of Allah, if do not find any direct instruction in it, by the Sunna of the Prophet of Allah…” Thus, the Sunna was recognized in the time of the Prophet as a source of Islamic guidance, and it started to be transmitted to different places and peoples.

    About the second point, it is a fact that the people were started to record the traditions of the Prophet by writing, and he sometimes objected to the writing, lest that the Hadith may be mixed up with the Quran. It is clear from his objection itself that the recording of Hadith started in Prophet’s lifetime, in addition to preserving it in the memory of the thousands of the disciples of Prophet. The Arabs had a wonderful and rare power of memory and in that memory they kept the beautiful poetry of the pre-Islamic days, and the Holy Quran, alive and intact. So the preservation of the text of the Quran, and the Sunnaof the Prophet, was in the safe custody of good memory and the writings of the faithful companions.

    In addition to this, there was a party of disciples who lived in Medina Mosque itself and they were specially equipped for the teaching of the religion to the people outside Medina. Some of these would remain in the Prophet’s company at all costs, and store up in their memory everything which the Prophet said or did about any aspect of human activities. Prophet’s wife, ‘Aysha’ was also one of those who sought to preserve the traditions of him. She was gifted with a clear understand and a marvelous memory. According to a report, Omar bin Khattab made arrangements with one of the neighbor that they should be in the company of the Prophet on alternate days, so that each might report to each other, what happened in his absence. Most important of a, the Prophet had repeatedly laid the obligation on every one of his followers to follow his Sunnah and it to others. These facts refute the mistaken idea that the need for Sunnah was felt, and the preservation of it started only after the demise of Prophet (peace be upon him).

    There is no doubt that the collection and recording of the traditions of the Prophet, had passed through several stages. We can summarize the stages of collection of Hadith in five main stages:

    1. – First stage was during the lifetime of the Prophet.
    2. – Second stage started just after his death. In this stage Hadith had passed from individual into public possession.
    3. – Third stage began with the passing of the generation that had seen and heard the Prophet directly. This stage was a turning point in this field. At this time the writing down of Hadith became more and common; but merely as an aid to memory.

      Towards the close of the first century of Hijra, the Omayyad Caliph, Omar bin Abdul Aziz, known Omar II, issued definite orders to the effect that written collections of Hadith should be made. It is reported by Bukhari, that he had written to the governor of Medina, Abu Bakr bin Azm, the following letter: “See whatever saying of the Holy Prophet can be found and write it down, for I fear the loss of knowledge and the disappearance of learned men. Do not accept anything but the true Hadith of the Prophet. People should make knowledge public and should sit in companies, so that he who does not know should come to know, for knowledge does not disappear until it is concealed from the public.” The importance of this stage lies in the fact that the Calif himself took the interest in the formal collection of all Hadith of the Prophet in a systematic way.

    4. – After the death of Umar bin Abdul Aziz, the collection of Hadith entered fourth stage in the history of the work of collecting the Prophetical traditions. By the middle of the second century of Hijra, Hadith began to assume a more permanent shape and witten collections had become popular. The first works on the subject are that of ‘Imam IbnJuraij’, who lived at Mecca, Imam Malik bin Anas at Medina, Abdullah bin Wahab in Egyt, Mamar bin Abdul Razak in Yemen, Sufyan al Thawry in Kufa, Hammad bin Salma at Basara, and Abdullah bin Mubarak in Kurasan. The book of Imam Malik bin Anas known as the ‘Muwatta’ is considered the most important of collections of the second century.
    5. – The fifth stage of the collection of the traditions started in the third century Hijra. It was then that the great work of collection of Hadith brought to complete for. The most important works of this stage is the Six Books of the following Imams: 1- Bukhari, 2- Muslim, 3- Abu Dawud, 4-Tirmizi, 5- IbnMaja, 6-Nasai. These books classified the reports and arranged subjects under special headings. It may be noted that these works made Hadith easy for reference. There are two kinds of collections of Hadith: “Musand” and “Jami”. Musnad is meant the tracing of any Hadith back through various transmitters to the companion of the Prophet on whose authority it rested. So the collections of the Musnad contains reports of traditions of all sorts. The Jami means a work that gathers together; it arranges reports according ot their subject matters. The credit of bringing knowledge of Sunna to perfection is due to these two kinds of collection.
  3. -Ijma</p>

    In the Muslim jurisprudence, the term Ijma expresses the unanimous consent of the religious scholars. Imam Jalaluddin al-Suyuti reported in his famous book, “TarikulKhulafa” (History of the Caliphs) that:

    “ During the reign of Abu Bakr when a case before him he used to consult the Quran; if he did not find it in the Book of Allah, and he knew of a Sunnah of His Messenger, he decided according to it; and if he did not find anything there, he used to question the Muslims around him if they of any decision of the Prophet in a matter of a similar case, and everyone of them stated what he knew from the Prophet, and Abu Bakr would say: “ Praise be to Allah who had kept among us those who remembered what the Prophet had said”. If he was unable to find anything in the Sunna of the Prophet, he gathered together the heads of the companions and consult them and if they agreed upon one opinion he decided according that opinion”.

    The second Caliph, Umar bin Khattab also followed the same rule. When there was a difference of opinion among the learned companions, he took the decision on the basis of majority. Their unanimous or majority decisions and judgements were subject to the condition that they were neither contrary to the Holy Quran nor to the Sunnah of the Prophet. This procedure was followed by the later jurisprudents in the cases of new problems and needs of their ages.

  4. – Qiyas

    The fourth source of Islamic Jurisprudence is Qiyas. It literally means measuring by a thing or comparing with or judging by comparing with or judging by comparing with a thing. From the Jurisprudence point of view it means a process of reasoning of a law based on Analogy i.e. a case might come up for decision, which is not expressly provided for either in the texts of the Holy Quran or in the traditions of the Prophet, or by the unanimous decision of scholars (Ijma); then the Jurisprudent looks for a case resembling in the Holy Quran or the Sunnah or in Ijma, and by reasoning on the basis if Analogy (Qiyas), arrives at a decision. Thus, this is also a kind of extension of the law as met with in the Quran, Hadith, Ijma but it is not of equal authority with them because it is based on only analogical deductions. Briefly it may be concluded as that the Holy Quran is the fountain-head of Islamic Law, explained by Traditions of the Prophet, Unanimous opinion of the Muslim Jurisprudents and Analogical decision of the Muslim Jurists.

Importance of The Prayer

Importance of The Prayer

Al-Azhar Magazine – April 1969

The prayer (Salath) is the first worship obligated in Islam. It is a perfect and organized institution through which man is connected with Lord of the Universe. The prayer in the religion of Islam is not mere words of appeal or praise of God but it is both action and speech fulfilled by meditation with heart, tongue, and whole body. The importance of prayer may be judged from the following facts:

“ It is the first duty enjoined on the Prophet; it is the most frequently repeated injunction of the Holy Quran; and the Prophet says: “The prayer is the pillar of Religion”; and: “The prayer is the first thing will be questioned about on the Day of Judgement”.

There are several reasons why prayer has been given this importance. It is really the first step in the onward progress of man and yet it is also a spiritual force which will help him in his all walks of life, and will be a source of happiness and peace. The prayer keeps man away from evil, and thus enables him to attain to his perfection. It helps him to realize the remembrance of God Who is over watching everything in the Universe. As he said is His Book: “Keep up prayer for My remembrance”. This remembrance not only urges him to do disinterested service for humanity but also makes him attain the highest degree of moral perfection.

The right development of human faculties, and attaining to moral greatness, depends upon the purification of man’s inner self and the suppression of evil tendencies. The Holy Quran says:

قَدۡ أَفۡلَحَ مَن تَزَكَّىٰ (١٤)وَذَكَرَ ٱسۡمَ رَبِّهِۦ فَصَلَّىٰ (١

It means: “He is successful who purifies himself. And remembers the name of his Lord. So prays”. (87:15)

Prayer is spoken of as a means of purification for heart. God Says:

وَإِذَا ذُكِرَ ٱللَّهُ وَحۡدَهُ ٱشۡمَأَزَّتۡ قُلُوبُ ٱلَّذِينَ لَا يُؤۡمِنُونَ بِٱلۡأَخِرَةِ‌ۖ وَإِذَا ذُكِرَ ٱلَّذِينَ مِن دُونِهِۦۤ إِذَا هُمۡ يَسۡتَبۡشِرُونَ (-٤٥ )

It means: “Recite that which has been revealed to you of the Scripture, and keep up prayer; surly prayer keeps one away from lewdness and evil, but verily remembrance of God is more important. And God knows what you do”.

The belief in God is the fundamental principle of every religion. The object of religion is not simply to preach the doctrine of the existence of God as a theory; it goes far beyond that. It seeks to instill the conviction that this belief is a living force in the life of a man. The prayer is the means by which it is sought to achieve this great end. The reference to the beginning of the Holy Quran will show what prayer really aims at. There we are told that a man who would tread the road to self development, must except certain principles and carry out certain duties, as stated in the beginning of the Holy Quran:

الٓمٓ (١) ذَٲلِكَ ٱلۡڪِتَـٰبُ لَا رَيۡبَ‌ۛ فِيهِ‌ۛ هُدً۬ى لِّلۡمُتَّقِينَ (٢) ٱلَّذِينَ يُؤۡمِنُونَ بِٱلۡغَيۡبِ وَيُقِيمُونَ ٱلصَّلَوٰةَ وَمِمَّا رَزَقۡنَـٰهُمۡ يُنفِقُونَ (٣)

It means: “Alif. Lam. Mim. This is the Scripture whereof there is no doubtis a guidance to those who ward off evil; who believe in the unseen and keep up the prayerand spend out of what we have given them.”

The three requisites of a true Muslim are there given, as quoted above, in their natural order. The first is a belief in the Unseen, which means the belief in God, who cannot be perceived by the physical eye of man. His mighty being is beyond limited human comprehension. He is the all knowing, he knows all things both secret and open. The Second, which follows immediately the belief in the Unseen, is the keeping up of the prayer. This shows that the belief in God is turned into a realization of the Divine existence by means of prayer. The third requisite, spending out of what God has given, is the natural sequel of the Second and shows that the certain of the Divine existence leads to the service of humanity.

Through prayer the man can realize the great truth of the Divine existence within his heart. It works an entire change in his life and also enables him to rise to moral greatness. Prayer is also the means of leveling all differences of ranks, colors and nationalities, thus the means of bringing about a cohesion and unity among mankind. The establishment of prayer is a living force in the unification of the human race through Divine services.

Prayer in Islam aims not only making man drink deep at the fountain of Divine morals, purifying his heart and setting him on the right road to the development of human faculties ; but it also brings about love, levels, all artificial differences between man and man, and establishes a true union of humanity. The truth is that this object cannot be achieved without regularly instituted form of prayer, so that the service of prayer is divided into two types: the first one to be performed in private and the other to be performed in congregation, preferably in mosques.

The private type of prayer is meant simply for the development of the inner self of man, and the public type of prayer has other ends as well in view, that make the Islamic prayer a mighty force in the unification of the human race. While the people living in the same vicinity gather together five times in the mosques, this gathering is a help to the establishment of healthy social relations. But the circle becomes wider in the weekly Friday Service which gathers together all Muslim members of a particular locality, and still wider in the two great ‘Id’ gatherings. Far more important than this social relations and unification of the human race, however, is the place of prayer in the leveling of social differences brought about by means of congregational prayer. For example, once within doors of the mosque every muslim feels himself in a atmosphere of equality and love. They all stand shoulder to shoulder, the king along with the poorest subject, the rich with the needy, the white with the black and the master with his servant, before their Creator and Lord. Not only this the king or the master standing in a back row will have to lay his head, prostrating himself before God, at the feet of a poor subject or a low class servant standing in the front row. There could be no more leveling influence in the world. Thus prayer creates an atmosphere of brotherhood, equality and human love, and differences of rank wealth and color vanish within the mosque, totally differing from the outside world.

These lessons of fraternity, equality and love, when put into practice in daily life, serve as foundations for the lasting human civilization and unification. In fact, the five daily congregational prayers are meant, among other things to carry into practice the theoretical lessons of equality and fraternity for which Islam stands. However much Islam may have preached in words may have preached in words the equality of man and the fraternity of the community all this would have remained as dead – letter, unless it had been translated into the everyday life of man through the institution of five daily congregational prayers, because no idea can live without a practical institution to keep alive.

Now let us come to the times of prayer and its prerequisite conditions. In Islam there is not a single day set apart for worship, but prayer is made a part of the everyday affairs of man. So there is a prayer in the morning before sun rise when a man rises from his bed; another just after mid-day; a third in the afternoon; a fourth just after sunset; and a fifth at night after twilight and before dawn. Thus prayer is the first daily work of the day, and between these two there are other prayers during hours of business or recreation. Islam thus requires that in all the varying conditions through which man has to pass, his spirit should be in touch with the Divine Spirit. He should feel the Divine Presence under all conditions, so that while he is doing his work, a moral force in the transaction of everyday affairs.

The ablution preceding prayer, facing the direction of Ka’aba, cleanliness of Body, dress and place, the reverential attitude in standing, the bowing down, the prostration with the forehead placed on the ground and the recitation of the “Fathihah” and the “Tashahhud” – all help the mind to concentrate on one object, to realize of the Divine Presence as a fact. This mode of worship helps the worshipper to find his heart’s joy in doing honor is his real Lord and Master, not only with his whole body. There is not the least doubt that the spirit of humility in man finds particular expression in the reverential postures which must be adopted in prayer. It cannot be denied that a particular posture of the body will generate in man feelings of pride and haughtiness while another is suggestive of true humanity, and it is only the latter frame of mind that can bring man closer to God, if therefore humility is of the essence of prayer, naturally a man will unfold his heart before his Cherisher.

Now, as we have seen, one of the great objects of prayer is to level down the social and race differences, and If any other postures than those prescribed by the Quran and the Prophet are adopted, there would be a divergence from the Islamic mode of worship, and the uniformity of prayer is destroyed, and its main usefulness is gone. A little consideration will show that a law generally requires a sanction behind it, and behind all Divine laws which relate to the development of man and to his moral betterment, the only sanction is a belief in the great Author of those laws. A man reverts to prayer to that state in which, disengaging himself from all worldly attractions, he feels the Divine Presence as an actual fact, the greater is his certainty about the existence of God and the greater the restraint upon the tendency to break His Law.

The Belief in the Day of Judgment and Its Effects in the Life of a Man

“The Belief in the Day of Judgment and Its Effects in the Life of a Man”

Al-Azhar Magazine – June 1969

The belief in a life after death and in the Day of Judgment is one of the basic principles of Islam. The belief in future life and in the accountability of his (or her) actions in this world is the most vital force that incites man to perfection and elevation in his present life, in order to attain the highest grade in the hereafter. The Holy Quran states that the state of existence of everyone in his future life, with its reward or punishment abiding in Paradise or Hell, depends upon the course of his life on earth.

The great importance of faith in a life after death and in the Day of Judgment is clear from the following facts. This faith in the Future life is used in the Holy Quran next only to the faith in God. Very often all the doctrines of faith are summed up, as amounting to believe in God and the Future Life.

As the Holy Quran says:

مَنۡ ءَامَنَ بِٱللَّه وَٱلۡيَوۡمِ ٱلۡأَخِر وَعَمِل صَـٰلِحً۬ا فَلَهُمۡ أَجۡرُهُم عِندَ رَبِّهِمۡ) ٦٢ -سُوۡرَةُالبَقَرَة(

It means: “Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day and does good, they shall have their reward from their Lord”. (2:62)

The word generally used in the Holy Quran to indicate the life after death is ‘Al-Akhira’ and ‘Al Dar-al-Akhira’ (the other or the next or the last life). Sometimes ‘Al-Yaum-al-Akhir’ (the last day) is used.

Death in the light of the teaching of the Holy Quran and the traditions of the Prophet is not the end of man’s life; but it only opens the door to a higher form of another life. The Holy Quran says:

ٱنظُرۡ كَيۡف فَضَّلۡنَا بَعۡضَہُم عَلَىٰ بَعۡضٍ وَلَلۡأَخِرَةُ أَكۡبَرُ دَرَجَـٰتٍ۬ وَأَكۡبَرُ تَفۡضِيلاً۬) ٢١ -الإسرَاء(

It means: “See how We have made some of them to excel others, and certainly the Hereafter ismuch superior in respect of degrees and much superior in respect of excellence.” (17:21).

And:

أَفَرَءَيۡتُم مَّا تُمۡنُونَ,ءَأَنتُم تَخۡلُقُونَهُ ۥ أَمۡ نَحۡنُ ٱلۡخَـٰلِقُونَ نَحۡنُ قَدَّرۡنَا بَيۡنَكُمُ ٱلۡمَوۡتَ وَمَا نَحۡنُ بِمَسۡبُوقِينَ عَلَىٰ أَن نُّبَدِّل أَمۡثَـٰلَكُمۡ وَنُنشِئَكُمۡ فِىمَا لَاتَعۡلَمُونَ ,وَلَقَدۡ عَلِمۡتُمُ ٱلنَّشۡأَةَ ٱلۡأُولَى فَلَوۡلَاتَذَكَّرُونَ( ٦٢ – ٥٨ الواقِعَة(

It means: “Have you seen that which you emit (the small life-germ)? Do you create it? Or Are We the Creator? We have ordained death among you, and We are not to be outrun. That Wemat change your attributes and make you what you know not. And verily you know the first creation. Why, them do you not reflect?” (56: 58-62)

In the Opening Chapter of the Quran (Al-Fathiha) God is spoken of as the owner of the Day of Judgment. This chapter is not only considered this essence of the life Quran, but it is actually the chapter which plays the greatest part in creating a true Muslim mentality; for the Muslim must turn to it, as it is an essential part of his daily prayers. Thus the idea that every deed must be requited is brought before the mind of the Muslim continually. This constant repetition of the idea of accountability of actions in this life undoubtedly impresses on the mind of man the reality of a future life, when every deed shall find its full reward.

Now a belief in life after death implies that every deed, however secretly it may be done, must bear fruit, and therefore his belief is both the greatest impetus towards good evil or irresponsible, deeds. A deep consciousness of the consequences of a deed, is thus engendered by a belief in a life after death. Not only that, such a belief purifies the motives with which a deed is done. But more than these, it makes a man work with the most selfless of motives for he seeks no worldly reward for what he does; his work is for higher and nobler ends relating to the life after death.

The Pivot on which the whole doctrine of Future Life in Islam turns, is that every human being will have to render an account of his actions on earth and that the happiness or misery of individuals will depend upon the manner in which they have performed the commands of their Creator. We must bear in mind that the idea of a future existence – of an existence after the separation of the living principle of our nature from mortal part – has furnished to the mortal teachers of the world the most powerful instrument for influencing the conduct of individuals and nations.

A careful study of the Holy Quran makes it clear that there is a strong connection between the two lives. The Holy Quran not only speaks of a life after death which opens out before man a new world of advancement; it also shows that the basis of that life is laid in this life on earth. But the material limitations of this life do not allow most people to realize that other life, which will become manifest in the Resurrection; because human perception will then be clearer, the viel of material limitations having been removed.

ihe Holy Quran plainly speaks of the connection between the two lives and the nature of the Resurrection Day:

وَجَآءَتۡ سَكۡرَةُ ٱلۡمَوۡتِ بِٱلۡحَقِّ ذَٲلِكَ مَا كُنتَ مِنۡهُ تَحِيدُ وَنُفِخَ فِى ٱلصُّورِ‌ۚ ذَٲلِك يَوۡمُ ٱلۡوَعِيدِ, وَجَآءَتۡ كُلُّ نَفۡسٍ مَّعَهَا سَآٮِٕقٌ۬ وَشَہِيدٌ لَّقَدۡ كُنتَ فِى غَفۡلَةٍ مِّن هَـٰذَا فَكَشَفۡنَا عَنكَ غِطَآءَكَ فَبَصَرُكَ ٱلۡيَوۡم حَدِيدٌ۬ ) ١٩ – ٢٢قٓ(

It means: “And the agony of death cometh in Truth (and it is said unto him): This is that which thou wast wont to shun. And the trumpet is blown; this is the Threatened Day, and every soul cometh, along with it a driver and a witness. Certainly thou wast in heedlessness of this. But now We have removed from thee thy viel, so thy sight today is sharp.” (50:19-22)

To turn to the nature of the Future Life, it must be remembered that the conditions of life in the hereafter are of an intricate nature and different from those of this life. If should be noted that the very ideas of time and space as relating to the next world are different from those here, and therefore we cannot conceive of the real nature of the world in terms of this world. The Holy Quran refers to the nature of things in the life of the other world:

فَلَا تَعۡلَمُ نَفۡسٌ۬ مَّآ أُخۡفِىَ لَهُم مِّن قُرَّةِ أَعۡيُنٍ۬ جَزَآءَۢ بِمَا كَانُواْ يَعۡمَلُون ( ١٧ -سُوۡرَةُالسَّجدَة(

It means: “No soul knoweth what is kept hid for them of joy, as a reward for what they used to do.”

(32:17). A saying of the Prophet referred to it: “Things which no eye has seen, not has ear heard nor have they entered into the heart of man” (Al-Bukhari).

The Day of Judgment or Resurrection is not a doctrine in which a man is required to believe, for his salvation in another life; rather is it workable principle of human life. This principle makes human life more serious and more useful, while at the same time awakening in him the consciousness of a life that is higher. Thus a belief in the Resurrection is needed in the first place to make this lower life worth living. Because without such a belief life loses not only all its point, leaving man without any real aim, but, in addition all in centive to do good and avoid evil.

As the idea of Resurrection and a life after death is so strange to the average mind, the Holy Quran has again and again answered the Question, how will it be? The answer given in all cases is quite consistent with present – day scientific knowledge. The one universal idea running through the verses bearing on this subject is that the great creator of all existence who made this vast universe out of nothing could also bring about a new creation.

Among the Quranic verses dealt with the question of Resurrection, are:

أَفَعَيِينَا بِٱلۡخَلۡقِ ٱلۡأَوَّل بَلۡ هُمۡ فِى لَبۡسٍ۬ مِّن خَلۡقٍ۬ جَدِيدٍ۬( ١٥ – قٓ(

It means: “Were We then fatigued with the first creation? Yet they are in doubt about a new creation”. (50:15)

وَقَالُوٓاْ أَءِذَا كُنَّا عِظَـٰمً۬ا وَرُفَـٰتًا أَءِنَّا لَمَبۡعُوثُونَ خَلۡقً۬ا جَدِيدً۬, ۞ قُلۡ كُونُواْ حِجَارَةً أَوۡحَدِيدًا , أَوۡخَلۡقً۬ا مِّمَّا يَڪۡبُرُ فِى صُدُورِكُمۡ‌ۚفَسَيَقُولُونَ مَن يُعِيدُنَا‌ۖقُلِ ٱلَّذِى فَطَرَكُم أَوَّلَ مَرَّةٍ۬‌ۚ فَسَيُنۡغِضُونَ إِلَيۡكَ رُءُوسَہُمۡ وَيَقُولُونَ مَتَىٰ هُوَ قُلۡ عَسَىٰٓ أَن يَكُونَ قَرِيبً۬ا)٤٩ – ٥١ الإسرَاء(

It means: “And they say, What! When we shall have become bones and decayed particles, shall we then be raised up o a new creation? Say: Be you stones or iron, Or some other creature of those which are greater in your thoughts (which are too hard to receive life) ! Then they will say who will return us? Say: He Who created you at the first.” (17: 49-51)

ذَٲلِكَ جَزَآؤُهُم بِأَنَّهُمۡ كَفَرُواْ بِـَٔايَـٰتِنَا وَقَالُوٓ اْأَءِذَاكُنَّا عِظَـٰمً۬ا وَرُفَـٰتًا أَءِنَّالَ مَبۡعُوثُونَ خَلۡقً۬ا جَدِيدًا, أَوَلَمۡ يَرَوۡاْ أَنَّ ٱللَّهَ ٱلَّذِى خَلَقَ ٱلسَّمَـٰوَٲتِ وَٱلۡأَرۡضَ قَادِرٌ عَلَىٰٓ أَن يَخۡلُقَ مِثۡلَهُمۡ وَجَعَلَ لَهُمۡ أَجَلاً۬ لَّارَيۡبَ فِيهِ فَأَبَى ٱلظَّـٰلِمُونَ إِلَّا كُفُورً۬ا ) ٩٨ -٩٩ الإسرَاء(

It mean: “What when we shall have become bones and fragments shall we then be indeed raised up as a new creation? Have they not seen that Allah Who created the heavens and the earth is Able to create the lake of them an end where there is no doubt?…” (17: 98-99)

The two important questions connected with the Resurrection and the next life are:

  1. -What is the state between death and Resurrection?
  2. -Will it be a Resurrection of the body or spiritual Resurrection?

As relating to the first question let us quote the learned Muslim Author MoulanaMuhammed Ali: “….The state between death and Resurrection is called ‘barzakh’ which literally means a thing that intervenes between two things or an obstacle or a hinderance. The word ‘barzakh’ has been used in this latter sense in two places in the Holy Quran (25:53 and 55:20), where a barrier between two seas is spoken of as barzakh. As signifying the state between death and Resurrection, it occurs in the following verses: “Until when death overtakes one of them, he say: Send me back, my Lord, send me back, happily I may be good in what I have left. By no means! It is a mere word that he speaks, and before them is ‘Barzakh’ until the day when they are raised” (23:99-100). This intervening state is also known by the name of ‘qabr’ which means grave, but has also been used in the wider sense of the state which follows death. Thus the three states, death, grave and the Resurrection, are spoken of, where the grave undoubtedly stands for ‘barzakh’: “Then He causes him to die, then assigns to him a grave (aqabara-hu); then when he pleases, He will raise him to life again” (80:21,22). And the raising to life on the Day of Resurrection is spoken of as the raising of those who are in their graves, as in 100:9 and 22:7, where all people are meant, whether actually buried or not. The state of qabr is therefore the same state as that of ‘barzakh’, the state in which every man is place after death and before Resurrection.”

“….it should be noted that while in the Holy Quran, the guilty are spoken of as receiving chastisement in the state of ‘barzakh’, in the hadith, this punishment is spoken of as ‘adhab al qabr’ or the punishment meted out in the grave. In “Bukhari” the chapter on ‘adhab al-qabr’ begins with quotations from the Holy Quran, one of which is the verse relating to the punishment of pharaoh’s people in ‘barzakh’, quoted at the conclusion of the previous paragraph. This shows that Bukhari regards these two punishments as one, and thus he establishes the identity of ‘qabr and barzakh’.” (The Religion of Islam: pp.267)

About the second question, it is worthwhile to quote the same Author: (1) “…. So far as our present experience goes, it is through the body that the spirit receives all it impressions of pleasure and pain, that it gets knowledge and perception of things that its impulses and sentiments are developed. In fact according to the present state of our knowledge, we cannot conceive of the soul without a body. But whether the soul in Resurrection will receive back the same body of clay which it left in this world is quite another question. There is nothing in the Holy Quran to show that the body which the soul left at death will be restored to it. On the other hand, there are clear statements show that it will be a new creation altogether”.

“….The resurrection – body has therefore nothing in common with the present body of clay except the name or the form which preserves the individuality. There is another consideration which shows that the body which the soul receives after death is not the material body of this world. As has already been shown, the departed one has a foretaste of the blessings of the Paradise or the chastisement of fire as the case may be, immediately after death, that is to say, while in the state of ‘barzakh’. Now the state of ‘barzakh’ lasts until resurrection while it is a matter o daily observance that the body either becomes dust in the grave or is burned. It then absolutely certain that the soul’s fore –taste of blessings or of chastisement in ‘barzakh’ is not through the body of clay which it left behind it at death. And that it must receive a body is also certain, because it is through some body that the spirit can have experience of pleasure or of pain.”

The Conception of Human Responsibility in Islam

“The Conception of Human Responsibility in Islam”

Al-Azhar Magazine – October 1969

One of the remarkable characteristics of Quran is the curious manner in which it combines the existence of a Divine Will, which not only orders all things, but which acts directly upon men and addresses itself to the springs of thought in them, with the assertion of a free agency in man and of the liberty of intellect.

Te conception of human responsibility is so strongly developed in the Quran. According the clear verses of it man is responsible for his actions and for the use or misuse of with which he has been endowed. He may fall or rise according to his own inclination.

It seems at first sight, that man should be judged by his works, a doctrine which forms the foundation of Islamic morality. How can this idea be reconciled with the idea that all his actions are ruled by an All-Powerful Will? It should be noticed that the Holy Quran clearly combines the existence of a Supreme Divine Will governing the Universe with the conception of self dependence and of moral responsibility founded on the liberty of human volition.

To illustrate the human responsibility and the freedom of human will, let us quote the following verses of the Holy Quran:

وَمَن يَكۡسِبۡ إِثۡمً۬ا فَإِنَّمَا يَكۡسِبُهُ ۥ عَلَىٰ نَفۡسِهِۦ‌ وَكَانَ ٱللَّهُ عَلِيمًا حَكِيمً۬ا ) ١١١ -سُوۡرَةُالنِّسَاء(

It means: “And whosoever gets to himself a sin gets it solely on his own responsibility” (4:111)

وَذَرِٱلَّذِينَ ٱتَّخَذُواْ دِينَہُمۡ لَعِبً۬ا وَلَهۡوً۬ا وَغَرَّتۡهُمُ ٱلۡحَيَوٰةُ ٱلدُّنۡيَا‌ وَذَڪِّرۡ بِهِۦۤ أَن تُبۡسَلَ نَفۡسُۢ بِمَا كَسَبَتۡ لَيۡسَ لَهَا مِن دُونِ ٱللَّهِ وَلِىٌّ۬ وَلَاشَفِيعٌ۬ وَإِن تَعۡدِلۡ ڪُلَّ عَدۡلٍ لَّا يُؤۡخَذۡ مِنۡہَآ‌ۗأُوْلَـٰٓٮِٕكَ ٱلَّذِينَ أُبۡسِلُواْ بِمَا كَسَبُواْ‌ۖ )٧٠ -سُوۡرَةُالاٴنعَام(

It means: “And let alone those who make a sport and a mockery of their religion, and whom this present world has deluded, and thereby bring to remembrance that any soul perishes for what it has got to itself…” (6:70)

وَإِذَا فَعَلُواْ فَـٰحِشَةً۬ قَالُواْ وَجَدۡنَا عَلَيۡہَآ ءَابَآءَنَا وَٱللَّهُ أَمَرَنَا بِہَا‌ۗقُلۡ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ لَا يَأۡمُرُ بِٱلۡفَحۡشَآءِ‌ۖ أَتَقُولُونَ عَلَى ٱللَّهِ مَا لَا تَعۡلَمُونَ) ٢٨-الاٴعرَاف(

It means: “When the commit a deed of shame they say: We have found that our fathers did so, God obliges us to do it; say (thou): surely God requireth not shameful doing…” (7:28)

أَتَتۡهُمۡ رُسُلُهُم بِٱلۡبَيِّنَـٰتِ‌ۖ فَمَا ڪَانَ ٱللَّهُ لِيَظۡلِمَهُمۡ وَلَـٰكِن كَانُوٓاْ أَنفُسَہُمۡ يَظۡلِمُونَ) ٧٠ -التّوبَة(

It means: “Their messengers (from Allah) came unto them with proofs (of Allah’s sovereignty). So Allah surely wronged them not, but they did wrong themselves” (9:70)

هُنَالِكَ تَبۡلُواْ كُلُّ نَفۡسٍ۬ مَّآ أَسۡلَفَتۡ‌ۚ وَرُدُّوٓاْ إِلَى ٱللَّهِ مَوۡلَٮٰهُمُ ٱلۡحَقِّ‌ۖ” ) ٣٠ – یُونس(

It means: “There will every soul experience that which it did aforetime and they are returned unto Allah, their Rightful Lord…” (10:30)

قُلۡ يَـٰٓأَيُّہَا ٱلنَّاسُ قَدۡ جَآءَڪُمُ ٱلۡحَقُّ مِن رَّبِّكُمۡ‌ۖ فَمَنِ ٱهۡتَدَىٰ فَإِنَّمَا” يَہۡتَدِى لِنَفۡسِهِۦ‌ۖ وَمَن ضَلَّ فَإِنَّمَا يَضِلُّ عَلَيۡہَا‌ۖ ( ١٠٨ -یُونس(

It means: “Say: O mankind! Now hath the truth from your Lord came unto you. So Whosoever is guided, is guided only for (the good of) his soul, and whosoever goes astray, he himself bears the whole responsibility of wandering” (10:108).

The people of Arabia, like all other nations of antiquity, had before the promulgation of Islam, absolutely abandoned themselves to the idea of an irresistible and blind fatality. Man was but a toy in the hands of Fate. This idea bred an utter disregard for human life. The teachings of Islam created a revolution in their mind. The above mentioned verses laid down, in emphatic terms, human responsibility, the freedom of human will and the liberty of human volition.

The following passages of the Holy Quran will clearly define the meaning of the Decree or Ordinance of God, and expression to the Absolution of the Divine Will, and an assertion to the liberty of human volition:

وَٱلشَّمۡسُ تَجۡرِى لِمُسۡتَقَرٍّ۬ لَّهَا‌ۚذَٲلِكَ تَقۡدِيرُٱلۡعَزِيزِٱلۡعَلِيمِ ( ٣٨ -یسٓ(

It means: “And the sun proceeding to its place of rest-that is an ordinance of Almighty, the All Wise” (36:38)

وَمِنۡ ءَايَـٰتِهِ ۦخَلۡقُ ٱلسَّمَـٰوَٲتِ وَٱلۡأَرۡضِ وَمَا بَثَّ فِيهِمَا مِن دَآبَّةٍ۬‌ۚ وَهُوَ عَلَىٰ جَمۡعِهِمۡ إِذَا يَشَآءُ قَدِيرٌ۬( ٢٩ -الشّوریٰ(

“Among His Signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth, and of the animals which He hath distributed therein, which He has sovereign power to gather when He will…” (42:29)

أَوَ لَمۡ يَرَوۡاْ أَنَّ ٱللَّهَ ٱلَّذِى خَلَقَ ٱلسَّمَـٰوَٲتِ وَٱلۡأَرۡضَ وَلَمۡ يَعۡىَ بِخَلۡقِهِنَّ بِقَـٰدِرٍ عَلَىٰٓ أَن يُحۡـِۧىَ ٱلۡمَوۡتَىٰ‌ۚبَلَىٰٓ إِنَّهُ ۥ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَىۡءٍ قَدِيرٌ۬) ٣٣ -الاٴحقاف(

“Do they not see that God, who created the heavens and the earth, and faltered not in creating these, Has power to vivify the deed-nay, He had sovereign control over all things” (46:33)

وَأُخۡرَىٰ لَمۡ تَقۡدِرُواْ عَلَيۡہَا قَدۡ أَحَاطَ ٱللَّهُ بِہَا‌ۚوَكَانَ ٱللَّهُ عَلَىٰ ڪُلِّ شَىۡءٍ قَدِيرً۬ا ) ٢١ -الفَتْح(

It means: “…and other things which are not at our command, but which are truly within His grasp, inasmuch as God is sovereign disposer of all things” (48:21)

وَإِن مِّن شَىۡءٍ إِلَّاعِندَنَا خَزَآٮِٕنُهُ ۥوَ مَانُنَزِّلُهُ ۥۤإِلَّابِقَدَرٍ۬ مَّعۡلُومٍ ( ٢١ -الحِجر(

It means: “There is not a thing but with us are the stores thereof. And We send it not down save in appointed measure” (15:21)

وَلِلَّهِ غَيۡبُ ٱلسَّمَـٰوَٲتِ وَٱلۡأَرۡضِ‌ۚوَمَآ أَمۡرُ ٱلسَّاعَةِ إِلَّا كَلَمۡحِ ٱلۡبَصَرِ أَوۡ هُوَأَقۡرَبُ‌ۚإِنَّ ٱللَّهَ عَلَىٰ ڪُلِّ شَىۡءٍ۬ قَدِيرٌ۬)٧٧ – النّحل(

It means: “And unto Allah belongeth the Unseen of the heavens and the earth and the matter of the Hour (of Doom) is but as a twinkling of the eye, or it is nearer still. Lo! Allah is able to do all things. (He has all things at command).” (16:77)

لَّقَدۡ أَنزَلۡنَآ ءَايَـٰتٍ۬ مُّبَيِّنَـٰتٍ۬‌ۚ وَٱللَّهُ يَہۡدِى مَن يَشَآءُ إِلَىٰ صِرَٲطٍ۬ مُّسۡتَقِيمٍ(٤٦ -النُّور(

It means: “Verily We have sent down to velations and explained them. Allah guideth whom He will unto a straight path”. (24:46)

ٱلَّذِى لَهُ ۥ مُلۡكُ ٱلسَّمَـٰوَٲتِ وَٱلۡأَرۡضِ وَلَمۡ يَتَّخِذۡ وَلَدً۬ا وَلَمۡ يَكُن لَّهُ ۥ شَرِيكٌ۬ فِى ٱلۡمُلۡكِ وَخَلَقَ ڪُلَّ شَىۡءٍ۬ فَقَدَّرَهُ ۥ تَقۡدِيرً۬ا ) ٢ -الفُرقان(

It means: “He unto Whombelongeth the sovereignty of the heavens and the earth, He hath chosen no son nor hath He any partner in the sovereignty. He hath created everything and hath meted out for it a measure”. (25:2)

إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ بَـٰلِغُ أَمۡرِهِۦ‌ۚقَدۡ جَعَلَ ٱللَّهُ لِكُلِّ شَىۡءٍ قَدۡرًا) ٣ -الطّلاَق(

It means: “Verily! Allah accomplishes what He ordains. Allah hath established for everything a fixed decree (He hath set a measure of all things)” (65:3)

سَبِّحِ ٱسۡمَ رَبِّكَ ٱلۡأَعۡلَى, ٱلَّذِى خَلَقَ فَسَوَّىٰ وَٱلَّذِى قَدَّرَ فَهَدَىٰ) ١ – ٣ :الاٴعلی(

It means: “Praise the name of thy Lord the Most High. Who created and fashioned to completeness. Who measureth, then guideth accordingly”. (87: 1-3)

إِنَّ ٱلَّذِينَ كَفَرُواْ سَوَآءٌ عَلَيۡهِمۡ ءَأَنذَرۡ تهُمۡ أَمۡ لَمۡ تُنذِرۡهُمۡ لَايُؤۡمِنُونَ , خَتَمَ ٱللَّهُ عَلَىٰ قُلُوبِهِمۡ وَعَلَىٰ سَمۡعِهِمۡ‌ۖوَعَلَىٰٓ أَبۡصَـٰرِهِمۡ غِشَـٰوَةٌ۬‌ۖ وَلَهُمۡ عَذَابٌ عَظِيمٌ۬)٧ – ٦ :البَقَرَة(

It means: “…As for the disbelievers, whether thou warn them or thou warn them not, they will not believe. God hath sealed up their hearts and their ears and on their eyes there is a covering. Theirs will be an awful doom”. (2:6-7)

لا يُغَيِّرُ مَا بِقَوۡمٍ حَتَّىٰ يُغَيِّرُواْ مَا بِأَنفُسِہِمۡ‌) ١١ -الرّعد(

It means: “…Lo! Allah changeth not the condition of a folk until they (first) change that which is in their hearts…” (13:11)

وَيَہۡدِىٓ إِلَيۡهِ مَنۡ أَنَابَ) ٢٧ -الرّعد(

It means: “…And He guideth unto Himself those who turn (unto Him)”. (13:27)

The first group of these verses meant by the Decree of God the law of nature. Because it will be noticed that the stars and the planets have each their appointed course, so has every other object in creation. Not only that, the movements of the heavenly bodies, the phenomena of nature, life and death are all governed by that law.

The second group indicates the idea of Divine sovereignty upon human will. But this idea is again explained by the last group of those verses. It is to the seeker for Divine Help that God renders His Help, and it is on the searcher of his own heart, who purifies his soul fromn impure longings, that God bestows grace.

We can summerise the conception of these verses in the following points:

  1. – The existence of an Almighty Power, the Creator of the Universe, the Ruler of His creatures. He has sovereign control over all things, and He knows the secrets of the heavens and the earth, and He has all things at command.
  2. – The belief in an all-pervading, ever conscious power, or the feeling of an assured trust in such a power, has been the motive factor of the world in every age. There is nothing more assuring, nothing that more satisfies the intense longing for a better and purer world, than the consciousness of a power above humanity to set right wrongs, to fulfill hopes, to help the abandoned.
  3. – The belief in God, the Almighty, the Fashioner of His creatures, springs from the very essence of Divine Ordinances. These Ordinances are as much laws which regulate the movements of the heavenly bodies. The Will of God is not an arbitrary will, but it is an educating will, as it is clear from the verses in which He promised help and guidance for him who sought the Supreme assistance.

We must, however, notice that, in many of the above mentioned verses of the Quran, the idea of Divine agency is conditioned upon human will. It is to the seeker for Divine Help that God renders his Help and man is responsible for his actions, and is absolute master of his conduct within the limited sphere of his existence.